1 Diane Sugrue, Dorian True, William Wagers 14th Oct 2011 CES 102-20 Comparing the Damage of Various Natural DisastersABSTRACT The topic chosen is to compare the damage caused by tornados with that of other naturaldisasters. The natural disasters compared to a tornado include the following: floods, hurricanes, andearthquakes. Specific examples are cited for each of the natural disasters. Using tables and charts helpdetermine which natural disaster is more detrimental to the environment and to civilization. Aftercomparing the three different natural disasters to tornados, it is determined that hurricanes not only causemore damage, but they also are responsible for more deaths.INTRODUCTION Due to the recent outbreak of tornados in Alabama, there has been a growing interest in naturaldisasters. The specific interest was in the damage caused by different natural disasters and how theycompare to tornados. According to weather.com, a tornado is “a violently rotating column of airextending between, and in contact with, a cloud and the surface of the earth.” Wind speeds often surpass100 mph and can reach up to 300 mph. Each year America experiences almost 1000 tornados that causeroughly 460 million dollars in damages. On average, they are also responsible for 142 deaths peryear.During April of this year, a variety of tornados devastated many southeastern states includingAlabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia. This resulted in well over350 deaths in over seven states. That is the most deaths caused by a single outbreak of tornados since1925 when 747 people lost their lives. The city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama took more damage than any othercity. The city has a population of 80,000 people and is home to The University of Alabama. OnWednesday, April 27th, an F5 tornado, the most powerful type of tornado, tore its way through the entirecity, leaving 310 dead and many more injured – no one was unaffected. The city was devastated, withmany of its citizens losing power and access to other commodities. The damages from that day cost 10
2billion dollars in damage. The devastation from that one tornado surpassed the yearly average for deathsand monetary damages of all tornados. This report compares the damages caused by tornados to othernatural disasters.DESCRIPTION OF OTHER NATURAL DISASTORS AND DATATable 1. Statistics for Record Setting Natural Disasters Damage (USD) lives lost Magnitude/Flood Level/CategoryAlabama Tornado 10 billion 310 F5Haitian Earthquake 8-14 Billion 316,000 7.0 Magnitude Hurricane Katrina 81 billion 1836 Category 5Yellow River Flood Inestimadble 4 million Record Flood Level The first natural disaster to compare is the one that is most similar to a tornado, a hurricane. Thereis a common misconception that a hurricane is just a big tornado. This could not be further from the truth.Hurricanes are, according to come.ucar.edu, “intense, rotating oceanic weather system that possessesmaximum sustained winds exceeding 74 mph.” They also are 300 miles in diameter on average. Thespecific example we will use is one that is close to every American’s heart, Hurricane Katrina. Thehurricane made landfall on August 29, 2005 in the Gulf Coast. The eye of the storm passed within 10miles of New Orleans. The storm devastated the entire city and left nearly 80% of the city flooded. Mostof the city was evacuated, which left many small business owners devastated. New Orleans’ economytook a huge blow. Most of the businesses there were evacuated and the buildings themselves took seriousirreparable damage. On average, hurricanes cause much more damage than any other natural disaster.This can be attributed to their sheer size. Hurricanes are massive and are capable of effecting much largerareas than a tornado or an earthquake. The next natural disaster this report will assess is an earthquake.An earthquake is an abrupt trembling of the ground that occurs due to the movement and breaking apartof tectonic plates. Almost every earthquake occurs somewhere near the fault lines where the tectonicplates collide with one another. Every year in America there are about 3700 earthquakes, which causemore than 4 billion dollars in damage and take around 7 lives. The specific earthquake this report willdiscuss is the one that happened in Haiti. The earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 was responsible for taking
3the live of more than 316,000 people. The estimations for the amount of damage caused vary, but the bestestimates range from 8 to 14 billion dollars. The quake devastated the country of Haiti and many of theislands near Haiti. The natural disaster that hit Haiti was one of the worst in recent history. The next andfinal natural disaster that will be assessed is floods. A flood occurs when any body of water receives amassive increase in water and overflows into the environment. The most common type of flood is a flashflood. These often occur in minutes and only last for a short period of time. One of the worst floods inhistory occurred 80 years ago. The yellow river flood in China has been estimated by some to have takenover 4 million lives, making it the worst natural disaster, in terms of death count, ever recorded.Table 2. Statistics for an Average Natural Disaster What is compared is the damage caused by tornadoes with other severe weather and naturaldisasters by analyzing three different categories: The magnitude/intensity of the event, the damage(measured in US dollars), and the amount of lives lost. For our specific events, the Alabama tornado hadeconomic damage of $10 billion, 310 lives lost, and it was an F5 tornado. The Haitian earthquake haddamages of $8-14 billion, 316,000 lives lost, and had a 7.0 magnitude. Hurricane Katrina had damages of$81 billion, killed 1836 people, and was a category 5 hurricane. Lastly was the Yellow River flood whoseamount of damage was unable to be measured, 4 million lives were lost, and had record-breaking floodlevels. The next things found were the average damage per year, average occurrence per year, averagemagnitude per year, and average lives lost per year in the US for each type of natural disaster. Theaverage damage of tornadoes per year is $460 million, there is an average of 900 tornadoes a year, theaverage category is an F2, and an average of 142 lives are lost because of tornadoes a year. Earthquakes
4cause $4.4 billion worth of damage per year, 3700 earthquakes happen on average per year, the averagemagnitude is 2-2.9, and an average of 7 lives are lost because of earthquakes a year. The average damageof hurricanes is $150 billion per year, there is an average of 3.5 hurricanes per year, the average categoryof hurricanes is 2-3, and an average of 350 lives are lost per year to hurricanes. Lastly, floods average adamage of $1.5 billion per year, an average of 2000 floods happen per year, the average flood level isminor flood level, and an average of 127 lives are lost per year due to floods.Table 3. Equations Used (example for Tornado column)CONCLUSION The assignment was to compare the damage caused by tornados to that caused by other naturaldisasters. Table 1 shows statistics for some of the most devastating and infamous natural disasters everrecorded, and Figure 2 shows the statistics for average natural disasters. Figure 3 shows the equationsthat we used to see how much damage or death a natural disaster could cause if the average yearlydamage and death count could be spread out over an entire year. Figure 4 is a plot of how many deathseach form of natural disaster causes per year. After comparing all of the data, it is obvious that tornadosin general are not as damaging as a hurricanes, earthquakes, or floods. However, they are deadlier thaneither floods or earthquakes.
5 350 Number of Deaths (N) [#] 300 250 Tornadoes 200 150 Earthquakes 100 Hurricanes 50 Floods 0 Type of Disastor (T)Figure 4. Average Lives Lost per Year Due to Natural DisastersEvery year, thousands of natural disasters across the United States cause hundreds of deaths and billionsof dollars in damage. Earthquakes are the most frequent natural disaster, but are generally too weak tohave much of an effect. Hurricanes are by far the most damaging form of natural disaster – they cause themost deaths and the most damage. This is due to the fact that hurricanes are much larger than the othernatural disasters, and they last longer as well. Tornadoes cause roughly the same amount of damage anddeaths as floods, but floods cause more damage per individual occurrence - $500,000 damage for astandard tornado compared to $750,000 for a normal flood. However, an individual hurricane or anindividual earthquake both can cause more damage than either a flood or a tornado - $42 billion damagefor a hurricane and $1.2 million for an earthquake. An average tornado leads to an average of 0.15 deathsper tornado (1 death per 7 tornados), but an average hurricane kills 100 people. An earthquake causes0.00189 deaths per individual occurrence (1 death per 530 earthquakes) and an average flood causes0.0635 deaths (1 death per 16 floods). This data shows that tornadoes are the fourth most damaging typeof natural disaster, but are the second most deadly natural disaster. Sourceshttp://www.weather.com/ready/tornado/index.htmlhttp://www.leftandrightnews.com/2011/04/30/alabama-footage-of-the-tornado-outbreak/http://www.comet.ucar.edu/nsflab/web/hurricane/311.htmhttp://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2007/06/art1exc.htm