J3.5
How do people perceive and respond to flash flood risk and warnings?

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 9:30 AM
How do people perceive and respond to flash flood risk and warnings?
611 (Washington State Convention Center)
Rebecca E. Morss, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and J. K. Lazo, K. Mulder, J. L. Demuth, and A. Bostrom

Effective information communication and decision making during weather emergencies are critical to saving lives, reducing injuries, and protecting property. This paper will discuss results from a component of a larger project aimed at improving warning and warning response decisions during extreme weather events. The project is using an interdisciplinary, multi-method approach to develop understanding about warning system interactions, risk communication, and decision making related to extreme weather events, with a focus on hurricanes in Miami, Florida and flash floods in Boulder, Colorado. Associated with the project, a written survey about flash floods was conducted with over 400 residents of Boulder, Colorado in winter 2010. The survey included questions about people's perceptions and knowledge of flood risk, their actions to prepare for a potential flood, their perceptions and interpretations of flash flood risk communications, and their anticipated actions in response to a flash flood watch or warning. A similar survey was distributed to six National Weather Service forecasters and eight local public officials in the Boulder area, allowing a comparison of laypeople's responses with those of experts. We will discuss findings from the survey, along with a framework for integrating the results to examine how people's perceptions and knowledge of flash flood risk relate to their anticipated responses to flash flood notifications.