Perceptions of hurricane hazards in the Mid-Atlantic region

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University of Alabama Libraries

The Mid-Atlantic region of the United States is susceptible to many tropical cyclone hazards such as storm surge, damaging winds, and flooding from heavy rainfall. Within the past fifteen years this region has experienced hurricanes Isabel in 2003 and Irene in 2011, as well as several tropical storms. This region was also influenced by post-tropical Sandy in 2012. The perception of hurricane hazards among residents of the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States is currently unknown as there is a lack of research on the comprehension of information from warning graphics. This research uses a total of 8 hypothetical scenarios (4 pairs) that vary each hurricane’s track and size to assess hurricane hazard risk perception. Each scenario is represented using a four-paneled graphic featuring the National Hurricane Center's Cone of Uncertainty, a new storm surge map, and a new damaging wind map created by the authors. A Qualtrics survey created and administered via email, asked Mid-Atlantic residents key questions about their concern for personal harm and evacuation plans. Participants of this survey perceive potential for damaging winds, falling trees, and the size of the storm to be the greatest threats. Both scenarios with track lines that moved inland were also seen as most concerning. Evacuation rates were greatest for each large storm and for both scenarios where the track line moved inland.

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Physical geography