Examination of Diffusion Patterns of Tornado Warning Using an Agent-Based Model and Simulation

Daan Liang, Zhen Cong, Guofeng Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Timely communication of warnings is essential to protection of lives and properties during tornado out-breaks. Both official and personal channels of communication prove to have considerable impact on the overall outcome. In this study, an agent-based model is developed to simulate warning’s reception–dissemination process in which a person is exposed to, receives, and sends information while interacting with others. The model is applied to an EF5 tornado (EF indicates enhanced Fujita scale) that struck Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013. The parameters are calibrated using publicly available data or a poststorm telephone survey or were derived from literature reviews, expert judgement, and sensitivity analysis. The result shows a reasonable agreement between modeled and observed reception rates for older and younger adults and for different channels, with errors of less than 20 percentage points. Similar agreement is also seen for the average numbers of warning sources. The subsequent simulation indicates that, in the absence of tornado sirens, the overall reception rates for younger and older adults would drop from the baseline by 17 and 6 percentage points, respectively. Concurrently, there is a large decline in the number of warning sources. When a persons’ social network is enlarged, the reception rate for older adults improves from 77% to 80%, whereas for younger adults it stays unchanged. The impact of increased connectivity is more pronounced when people are not watching television or a tornado siren is not available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-533
Number of pages13
JournalWeather, Climate, and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Communications/decision-making
  • Emergency response
  • Societal impacts
  • Vulnerability
  • Wind effects


Dive into the research topics of 'Examination of Diffusion Patterns of Tornado Warning Using an Agent-Based Model and Simulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this