Thursday, May 30, 2013

Oklahoma City's Daytime Population

Daytime population statistics might explain why the EF5 tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20 resulted in relatively few deaths. The tornado occurred on a Monday afternoon, when many people were away from home. Despite being one of the most powerful tornadoes in U.S. history, destroying or damaging more than 10,000 homes, the death toll was 24. Compare that to the 158 people who died in the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, which struck on a Sunday afternoon. What a difference the day makes.

According to a Census Bureau analysis of daytime populations, Oklahoma City ranks 14th among the nation's large cities (populations of 500,000 or more) in commuter-adjusted population change. During the work day, Oklahoma City's population expands by 17 percent as commuters stream in from the suburbs (such as Moore) to their jobs in the city. When the tornado hit Moore on Monday afternoon, many of Moore's residents were at work in Oklahoma City. Tragically, their children were attending school in Moore. Ten of the 24 who died were children.

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