Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Thursday, December 18, 2008 - 6:57PM

Winter in Oklahoma: more deadly than spring

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STATS: Icy road fatalities for the 2008-2009 winter season

This week, I finished work compiling a list of all of the fatalities caused by icy road accidents so far this winter (an ongoing project that I plan to keep updated this season). The numbers were much higher than I expected. Through a search of online news reports from newspapers and TV, I found at least 137 verifiable fatalities from accidents in the two-month period starting on October 13. Topping the stats is Indiana, with 14 deaths. Second in line is the state of Oklahoma, with 13 deaths, all of which have occured since December 9. Oklahoma, where springtime severe storms get all of the attention, sees an average of 3 tornado fatalities annually [1].

Doing this work has continued to confirm what I realized a long time ago - the biggest threats to our safety tend to come from everyday things that don't get a lot of attention. And things that seem more threatening tend to get all the hype and coverage. In the weather realm, this is no different. How many tornado, hurricane documentaries do you see on TV? And how many people cite severe storm phenomena as their biggest fears? 13 people just lost their lives in Oklhahoma in a little over a week this month - with little more than a sidebar in news reports. The Greensburg, Kansas tornado took the lives of 12 people, and even to this day documentaries are still being made about it (in fact, I just licensed another Greensburg tornado clip this week).

This winter continues to show no sign of slowing down in terms of frozen precipitation events, with a midwest ice storm starting as I type this. Just about every state in the country has dealt with icy roads so far this season - even in the deep south. So please, keep on your toes and take it slow out there.

1. From 1961-1990, Source: National Weather Service (data link)

Yes. Glad someone else has noticed this. People get really upset at "tornado" storm chasers because nobody can understand how someone could "admire" storms. They are so "destructive and deadly". Those same people who complain about storm chasers then turn around and wish for snow. Which is more deadly? Well, we know the answer to that. Winter weather is far more deadly than spring's severe weather. Nobody wants to hear that, though. You are also right about the media and how much attention to pay to tornadoes vs the real threats in life.
- Posted by Beau from Kentucky

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