TROY professor reveals tornado impact research in new book

Posted: Tuesday, 06 March 2012

TROY - Just in time for tornado season, Troy University economics professor Dan Sutter will release his latest book on tornado analysis.

"Deadly Season: Analysis of the 2011 Tornado Outbreaks," set to publish late this month, takes a deeper look on the reasons behind death tolls during 2011's particularly devastating tornado season. More than 1,200 tornadoes touched down and more than 500 people died, the highest death toll since 1953.

Sutter, a Charles G. Koch professor of economics in the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy, along with Kevin Simmons, Corrigan Chair of Economics at Austin College, had just published the "Economic and Society Impacts of Tornadoes" a month before 2011's most destructive tornados hit.

"I wondered if we had written a book that was already out of date," Sutter said. His answer: Not dramatically.

"Deadly Season" studies how extreme weather and societal vulnerability contribute to death rates in tornadoes and also looks to recognize patterns in the effectiveness of Doppler radar and storm warning systems.

"We are looking forward to seeing how this book does. We think we have some suggestions that can help focus tornado research," Sutter said. "There are very substantial differences in fatalities of tornadoes across the country."

Sutter said tornadoes are deadliest in the southeastern United States, and while researchers have some ideas why that might be, there should be more effort put into the studies.

"They are 25-27 percent more deadly here than in the rest of the U.S.," he said.

Sutter began his tornado research about 10 years ago, when he went to work at the University of Oklahoma. After a deadly tornado outbreak in 1999, Sutter began quantifying the risks of storm shelters and safe rooms to determine if he should buy one for his home.

And from there, "one project led to another."

When Sutter first began his projects, in fact, he thought his research would just be written in one paper. Now, several papers and two books later, Sutter doesn't know where the road will lead.

"There's always the idea of the next paper," he said.

"Deadly Season" can be ordered from the American Meteorological Society at or by calling 617-227-2426, ext. 686.

About Dr. Sutter: Before coming to Troy University, Dr. Sutter had served as an economics professor at the University of Texas-Pan American and University of Oklahoma, where he also served as graduate director of the Masters and Ph.D. programs in Economics. He has published widely in economics and policy journals, worked closely with many graduate and undergraduate students, and his work has been cited in major media outlets, such as USA Today. Dr. Sutter earned his Ph.D. and Master's degrees in Economics from George Mason University and Bachelor's degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic University. In addition to "Deadly Season," he co-authored "Economic and Societal Impacts of Tornadoes" with Dr. Simmons.

Dr. Sutter is available for interviews, and as a source for tornado impacts and recommendations. He may be reached at his office at 334-670-5771

Dr. Dan Sutter

Dr. Dan Sutter