Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Brown, Michael E.

Committee Member

Dyer, Jamie L.

Committee Member

Mercer, Andrew E.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


This thesis explores the relationship between surface elevation roughness and tornado frequency throughout the eastern United States. It builds upon previous studies which demonstrated a negative relationship between roughness and tornado frequency for the Great Plains and Arkansas. A generalized linear model with tornado frequency as the response variable and roughness and population density as the predictors is generated. This model demonstrates that increased roughness is associated with decreased tornado frequency at the scale of the entire eastern United States, especially where roughness is greater than 20 meters. The methods are also performed for 13 smaller regions within the eastern US, but an effect of roughness is only confirmed for the regions encompassing the Great Lakes and central Appalachians. From these results, it is concluded that mountain ranges, where roughness exceeds 20 meters, clearly inhibit tornado activity, but there is little evidence that smaller terrain variations have the same effect.