Winter storms in the U.S. are estimated to cause 30-40 fatalities annually. Additionally, 400-750 hypothermia fatalities occur each year due to extreme cold exposure, and approximately 30 people perish yearly in avalanches. This study examines the frequency and monthly and spatial distributions of fatalities in the conterminous U.S. attributable to winter weather phenomena. Fatality data were obtained from three different sources, the National Climate Data Center's Storm Data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Compressed Mortality File, and the WestWide Avalanche Network. These datasets were examined and three categories of fatalities were identified: avalanche, falling object, and hypothermia, with the fatalities being further classified as direct or indirect. Hypothermia fatalities found in Storm Data and the Compressed Mortality File were assessed for the years 1999-2004, and avalanche fatalities from Storm Data and the WWAN were analyzed for the years 1996-2007. Results illustrate the annual frequencies and averages for these fatalities. Demographic information is examined when available to assess the completeness of this information in these datasets, as well as to determine the effects of age and gender on vulnerability to winter weather events. These fatality data were then mapped in a geographic information system (GIS) to determine the geographic patterns of winter weather fatalities, as well as to highlight spatial differences in the data between the three datasets utilized. The amount of fatalities undercounted in each dataset is estimated and descriptive statistics are utilized to compare the frequency of direct versus indirect fatalities.
|Advisor:||Ashley, Walker S.|
|Commitee:||Bentley, Mace, Changnon, David|
|School:||Northern Illinois University|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 48/01M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Geography, Statistics, Atmospheric sciences|
|Keywords:||Hazard mortality, Hazards, Vulnerability, Winter fatalities|
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