1.5
Making sense of hurricanes

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 9:30 AM
Making sense of hurricanes
604 (Washington State Convention Center)
Catherine F. Smith, Greenville, NC; and D. J. Kain and K. Wilson

In-depth interviews about hurricane risk and emergency communication with 120 residents of a high-risk county on the US southeastern coast augmented by results of surveying 1079 randomly selected residents of the region show diverse people actively interpreting public information about hazardous tropical storms.

To assess their personal risk, people get information from a mix of sources and use a variety of heuristics to interpret alternate representations of storm events provided by local government emergency managers, local and national news media, and social networks.

As contribution to the social scientific study of weather risk perception, using mixed-methods we approach a regional case study by inventorying commonly used information sources rated for reliability, by analyzing interviews for themes regarding the human impacts of storms, and by statistically analyzing survey responses for correlations between information and evacuation decisions. In this presentation we will offer general conclusions and identify questions for further research about ways that people currently access, understand, and use public information about hurricanes and other tropical storms.