Tornado report shows a twist for Tennessee - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tornado report shows a twist for Tennessee

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CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB-TV) -- The April, 2011 tornadoes brought sensitivity and fear of severe weather after they ripped through the region. New reports show Tennessee has experienced more tornado fatalities before this outbreak than some states which saw more frequent tornadoes. Some meteorologist say population density is the primary reason, especially compared to Texas which sees plenty of twisters.

"You get out to the country side in Texas and it falls off into ranch land very quickly, and you go maybe several miles before you see the next house," said Meteorologist George Mathews of the Morristown, Tennessee office. He used to live in Texas.

He says Tennessee's rural areas are more populated compared to Texas. This makes Tennessee an easier target even though the Lone Star State, from 1981-2010, averaged more than seven times the number of tornadoes a year at 150.

Florida had three times as many tornadoes but were mostly ones which do the least damage--EF-0 or EF-1.

"Florida has a lot of weak tornadoes. They don't have very many strong tornadoes at all," confirmed Mathews.

So before the outbreak had Tenesseeans been less prepared? Mathews says this likely wasn't a factor. However, the outbreak did grab more people's attention.

In 2011 Amanda and Rob Pritchard started selling underground shelters as a dealer. However, business didn't get rolling until well after the storms and people knew about their Bradley County company, Integrity Storm Shelters. Then local orders went from two that year to 14 in 2012. This sounds like a small number, but any way you look at it it's a good year.

"That's 14 more people that have a safe place to go if they need it," said Amanda Pritchard, co-owner.

Weather radio sales went up, too. Gregory Griffin lives in a mobile home in Bradley County and had a close call with one of the 2011 tornadoes. The radio warnings sent him to his neighbor's sturdier house across the street.

"If you don't have a weather radio with batteries, that is one of the main things," stated Griffin. "If you can't afford an underground bunker you need a radio!"

For more information on severe weather preparedness visit

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