A spatial analysis of "most weather warned" counties by severe weather phenomena in the contiguous United States
Severe weather affects many regions of the United States, and has potential to greatly impact many facets of society. This study provides a climatological spatial analysis by county of severe weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) between January 1st, 1986 to December 31st, 2017 for the contiguous United States. The severe weather warnings were issued for county-based flash flood, severe thunderstorm, and tornado phenomena issued through the study period and region. Post 2002 severe weather warnings issued by storm warning area were included in this study in the form of county-based warnings simultaneously issued for each affected county. Past studies have researched severe weather warnings issued by the NWS, however these studies are limited in geographic representation, study period, and focused on population bias. A spatial analysis of severe weather warning occurrences by county identify that (a) highest occurrences of flash flood warnings are located in the desert Southwest and Texas, (b) severe thunderstorm warning occurrence is more frequent in Arizona, portions of the Midwest, the South, and the Mid and South Atlantic states, (c) the tornado activity regions of Tornado Alley and Dixie Alley (i.e. Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Illinois) contained the highest occurrences of tornado warnings, and (d) the highest instances of aggregate warning occurrences are found in the desert Southwest, the Midwest, and the Southern regions of the United States. Generally, severe weather warning “hot spots” tend to be located in those same regions, with greater coverage. This study concludes with a comparison of local maxima and general hot spot regions to expected regions for each phenomenon. Implications of this study are far reaching, including emergency management, and has potential to reduce risk of life.