16B.4 Understanding and Improving Communication of Hurricane Storm Surge Forecasts through Visualizations of Risk and Potential Impacts

Friday, 20 April 2018: 11:45 AM
Masters ABCD (Sawgrass Marriott)
Rebecca E. Morss, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and O. Wilhelmi, H. Lazrus, J. Boehnert, J. L. Demuth, and J. Gambill

With advances in scientific predictions and information and communication technologies, weather forecast and warning communication and decision making are changing rapidly. An NSF-funded project, Communicating Hazard Information in Modern Information Environment (CHIME), aims to reduce harm from hurricanes and other hazards, alleviate social vulnerability, and enhance resilience by understanding and improving hazardous weather risk communication and response in today’s world. CHIME advances our understanding of how evolving weather forecasts and warnings interact with societal vulnerabilities, information flow, and decisions as a hurricane approaches and arrives. This presentation will summarize results from the project to date about how members of the public access, share, and use different types of information when a hurricane threatens, based on focus groups with at-risk populations and analysis of Twitter data from recent hurricane events. Building on this research, the project included an interdisciplinary component exploring the use of geospatial visual technologies to improve communication of hurricane risks. The primary aim was to investigate different approaches for depicting hurricane forecast and warning information in a manner that helps people to visualize and personalize the risks and potential impacts at a local scale. Using geospatially distributed storm surge forecast information, we developed prototypes of visual hurricane risk messages focusing on space-time dimensions of storm surge inundation, including forecast uncertainty. We then tested how the two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional visualizations influenced people’s risk perceptions and anticipated protective decisions in focus groups with members of the public. The focus groups were conducted in June 2017 with residents of three communities in Georgia and South Carolina that were affected by Hurricane Matthew. We will present key findings from this research and discuss recommendations for visual communication of storm surge risks and future related work
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