Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Salvatore DiPietro makes this connection here…

On January, 31 2013, the USA Today reported its “Killer Storms, tornadoes hit South, Midwest” article online. The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology and the specific issue of the occurrence of violent storms and recovery from it. It is reported that a large cold front moved in, creating violent storms and multiple tornadoes over a two-day period. These violent storms affected around six states, mainly hitting Georgia and Tennessee the hardest. Over twenty tornadoes were reported over these two days, causing three deaths, thousands without power, and destroying many buildings. Based on my education in Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE), the news story is accurately reporting on a WRE issue. Extreme violent storms are becoming more frequent due to climate change. The fallout out from these storms can be flooding, deaths, and economic burdens. Today’s engineers need to design infrastructure that can handle these extreme events. The National Severe Storms Laboratory reports that about “1,200 tornadoes hit the US yearly.” After reflection of this article, it would have been nice to have seen the monetary implications of the storm. This would have supported the economic and societal issues brought out by the storm.

The occurrence of the extreme storms with tornadoes is something that is uncontrollable. Depending on the scale of the storm, they can have serious economic and societal issues on the local and national levels. The economic issues are clear, these violent storms cause a tremendous amount of damage to not only homes, but businesses and municipal systems. This can lead to completely wiping out the local economy. I found a relationship between extreme weather and the economy in a report done by Accuweather. Accuweather reports “The yearly economic cost of the weather was found to be $485 billion, plus or minus $240 billion.” The cause-effect between extreme storms is as follows-extreme rain, wind, flooding, and possibly tornadoes and destroy many homes and businesses. The societal impact includes family’s homes being completely knocked down, leaving their memories and belongings behind and attempting to relocate.

Figure 1: A man in Georgia looking through debris for a lost dog.


Figure 2: A family in Georgia trying to help relatives clean up.

Images provided by USA Today



Copeland, Larry. “Killer Storms, Tornadoes Hit South, Midwest.” USA Today. Gannett, 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 09 Feb. 2013.

“NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.” NSSL: Severe Weather 101: Tornadoes. NOAA, 2013. Web. 09 Feb. 2013.

“United States.” AccuWeather. N.p., 29 June 2011. Web. 09 Feb. 2013.