Page 24 - Summer Alumni Magazine 2012

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TROY Magazine
Troy University economics professor
Dan Sutter felt a sense of relief. It was
March 2011, and he and his co-author,
Kevin Simmons of Austin College, had
finally seen their book “Economics and
Society Impacts of Tornadoes” published,
capping off a nearly two-year process.
And then, a little over a month later,
on April 27, the United States and, in
particular, north Alabama, experienced
one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks
in history. The 2011 tornado season is
ranked as the fourth deadliest in U.S.
history, including the 321 fatalities during
the April 25-28 outbreak, 238 in Alabama
alone on April 27.
“We had barely gotten this book out
when we had the outbreak in April 2011,
and there was the fear that our previous
book was already outdated,” said Sutter,
Charles G. Koch professor of economics
in TROY’s Manuel H. Johnson Center for
Political Economy. “(In the first book)
we had addressed tornado warnings
and all the other things the National
Weather Service had done to reduce
tornado fatalities and then we have the
deadliest single tornado since 1947 and
the deadliest tornado day since 1925. All
of these things that tornado researchers
thought could never happen again, that’s
what we had.”
Sutter and his co-author immediately
began discussions with the book’s editor
at the American Meteorological Society
Press to decide what course of action
was best given the events of April 27.
A revised edition of the first book was
among the ideas discussed, but in the end,
the idea of a new book won out.
“Journalism is often referred to as the
first rough draft of history, and we took
some of that spirit into this project here.
It is sort of a first academic look at the
2011 season,” Sutter said.
The result of their research was “Deadly
Season: Analysis of the 2011 Tornado
Outbreak,” which was published in March
just ahead of the outbreak’s one-year
“We wanted to try to take what we had
just written and provide some perspective
on what happened in the April outbreak,”
Sutter said. “The big issue that arises is
that natural disasters are a combination of
what nature does and what we as people
do. If you are to look at the season of
2011 for tornadoes, you have such an
extreme season it would seem that there
could be two explanations. One would
‘Deadly Season’
TROY professor’s book examines April 2011 tornado outbreak
By Andy Ellis