J10.3 Improving storm surge risk communication

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 11:30 AM
618-620 (Washington State Convention Center)
Betty Hearn Morrow, SocResearch, Miami, FL; and J. Rhome

Major initiatives are underway not only to improve storm surge forecasting, but to find better ways to communicate the risk to vulnerable coastal residents. Acknowledgement of the need to better understand how people view forecasts and warnings has resulted in several on-going initiatives within the climate and weather enterprise including the social sciences portion of NOAA's Storm Surge Roadmap project and the National Science Foundation funded projects on Communicating Hurricane Information. There is increasing evidence that the public continues to under-recognize the dangers of storm surge. The most recent example is that 15,000 people did not evacuate from Galveston Island for Hurricane Ike in spite of the forecast of up to 20 feet of storm surge (Jamie, is this correct?). If actions are not taken to increase the public's awareness and understanding of storm surge threat, extensive loss of life is possible. Considerable research within numerous fields and disciplines in the social sciences has contributed to a better understanding of how people perceive and react to risk. This paper will provide an overview of that research followed by a discussion of several initiatives underway within NOAA to improve the public's understanding of the storm surge threat.
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