Environmental Protection

Research Being Conducted on Oklahoma Tornado Damage

Researchers from the University of Alabama are conducting studies on the latest tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013. The goal of the study is to better understand and prepare for future tornadoes in tornado-prone areas.

As part of the National Science Foundation Rapid Response Grant for Exploratory Research for the University of Alabama, researchers from 6 institutions and a private company investigated tornado damage in Moore, Okla. Social media and engineering practices will also be part of the study to determine if either of those avenues can help contribute to advancing future building practices and emergency preparedness.

“Currently, you won’t find the word ‘tornado’ in the building code, so we’re looking at ways to encourage people to design for tornadoes,” said Andrew Graettinger, associate professor of civil, construction, and environmental engineering.

“The combination of social media and engineering is a method for getting eyes on the ground as quickly as possible after an event,” said Dr. Laura Myers, senior research social scientist at The Center for Advanced Public Safety at UA.

“By the time the research team can arrive to make their observations, social media can provide guidance on where to go and what to look at. It can provide a pretty good idea of where the most substantial damage is located and where unique situations are located, such as the location of shelters and safe rooms that withstood the tornado.”

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