Tornadoes – Vulnerability/Risk Assessment


Tornado vulnerability depends on the incidence of and societal exposure to tornadoes for a particular location. Damages from tornadoes have been growing over the long term—a trend that’s been driven chiefly by the increase of people and property in vulnerable areas, like the tornado belt.

For example, the population of Oklahoma City increased from around 400,000 in 1980 to nearly 600,000 today, driven in part by the city’s booming, fossil fuel-driven economy. In Moore, a major suburb of Oklahoma City, population has increased by some 57% since 1980, to 55,000 now.[1]

Increased Vulnerability From Mobile Homes

A Lloyd’s of London 2013 Insurance Report indicates that the growing density of mobile home parks in “Tornado Alley” states is placing a greater risk on lives and homes. The report claims that one third of all tornado deaths now happen in mobile homes.[2]

Moreover, according to the National Weather Service, the percentage of deaths in mobile homes has more than doubled, from 24 percent in 1976 to 50 percent in 2000. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that people living in mobile homes are 23 times more likely to be killed than those living in permanent homes.[3]

Tornado Vulnerability Assessment Questions

To assess your vulnerability to the threat of a Tornado to your family and property, perform an assessment to determine if you have knowledge of, are prepared and/or have a plan by answering the following questions:

General All-Hazard Questions:

  • Have you determined the disaster risks in your locale and the hazards that accompany them?
  • Do you know the emergency warning signals and alert notifications used in your community?
  • Have you instructed family members how to shut off water, gas and electricity to your house?
  • Have you made the necessary property preparations to reduce the damage from the hazard?
  • Do you have a backup generator in case of a prolonged power failure?
  • Have you purchased insurance (property, health, life, and/or hazard type)?
  • Have you made the necessary financial arrangements in case of a sudden evacuation and power outage that shuts down local ATMs and banks?
  • have you organized important documents and records and stored them in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box?
  • Have you performed a home inventory video taping the contents stored them in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box?
  • Does your family have an established Emergency Communication Plan and evacuation plan in place and asked an out-of-state person to serve as the “family contact”?
  • Have you assembled a shelter-in-place Emergency Supplies Kit in case you have to shelter at home and you are without power?
  • Have you assembled a mobile Emergency Supplies Kit that can serve as a “grab and go” bag?
  • Are you or someone in your family trained in first aid and CPR?
  • Have you made they necessary preparations and arrangements for pets, seniors, and the disabled?
  • Have you familiarized yourself with the emergency plans of your family member’s employment building, school, day care center, or nursing home?

Hazard Specific Questions:

  • Do you understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?
  • Do you live in a manufactured (mobile) home, and if so, do you have an emergency shelter plan?
  • Do you know where the nearest emergency shelter is located ?
  • Have you designated a protected or safe area in you home as shelter?

U.S. Tornado Density Vulnerability Map

This density map displays the annual Tornado Watch frequency in the United States by county.[4]



  1. NOAA – A Brief History of Deaths from Tornadoes in the United States:
  2. Oklahoma Insurance Department: Lloyd’s of London – “Tornadoes: A Rising Risk?” –
  3. Oklahoma Insurance Department: Lloyd’s of London – “Tornadoes: A Rising Risk?” –
  4. Image Source: [Accessed July 12, 2013]
  5. Image Source: [Accessed August 12, 2017]