This paper offers an empirical test of the impact of human ecological patterns and other known correlates on tornado occurrence. It uses the National Severe Storms Forecast Center’s information on tornadoes from 1950 through 1990 and employs ecological data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the Environmental Protection Agency. The results show that metropolitan and other urban counties have higher odds of tornado occurrence than rural counties, and that the probability of occurrence of tornadoes increases with increases in the number of previous tornadoes. The paper assesses the meaning of this finding for demographers, atmospheric scientists, engineers, and disaster managers.

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