Improving Storm Surge Risk Communication

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 11:15 AM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jamie Rhome, National Hurricane Center, Miami, FL; and N. Hardin, P. Santos, S. White, M. Belk, and T. J. LeFebvre

Nearly half of the deaths associated with landfalling tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin over the past 50 years are attributable to storm surge. Effectively communicating storm surge timing, spatial extent, and magnitude is complex and challenging. Recent social media research indicates more effective communication of storm surge hazards is needed to correct common public misunderstandings. Hesitation to evacuate from or prepare for storm surge arises because people either do not understand storm surge, personalize their vulnerability, or understand that storm surge could occur at their home. In order to help mitigate the impacts of storm surge from tropical cyclones, emergency managers and decision-makers stress the need for actionable information that is both consistent and easy to understand.

The National Weather Service's (NWS) National Hurricane Center (NHC) has responded to these communication challenges by encouraging research and development of new operational products. During the 2014 hurricane season the NHC introduced the experimental storm surge inundation graphic, which was the culmination of extensive social science research, and emergency management and broadcast meteorologist input. The next logical service upgrade is the Storm Surge watch/warning product expected to be implemented experimentally for the 2015 hurricane season. This presentation elaborates on the motivation for the watch/warning product, provides an overview of its development, and describes its expected applications.