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Community Response to Hurricane Threat: Estimates of Warning Issuance Time Distributions

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  • 1 Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • | 2 Department of Urban Design and Planning, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 3 Hazards Management Group, Tallahassee, Florida
  • | 4 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydrologic Engineering Center, Davis, California
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Abstract

Hurricane evacuation warnings from local officials are one of the most significant determinants of households’ evacuation departure times. Consequently, it is important to know how long after the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues a hurricane watch or warning that local officials wait to issue evacuation warnings. The distribution of local evacuation warning issuance delays determined from poststorm assessment data shows a wide range of warning issuance delay times over an 85-h time span, although the vast majority of times fall within a 40-h window. Nearly 30% of the jurisdictions issued evacuation warnings before an NHC hurricane warning. Only 5% delayed the decision for more than 25 h after the NHC hurricane warning. The curves for warning issuance delays, using both the NHC watch and NHC warning issuance times as reference points, are very different from the warning issuance curves observed for the rapid-onset events. The hurricane data exhibit much more of an “S shape” than the exponential shape that is seen for rapid-onset data. Instead, curves for three different types of storm tracks, defined by a perpendicular/parallel dimension and a straight/meandering dimension, follow three noticeably different logistic distributions. The data also indicate that warnings were issued significantly earlier for coastal counties than for inland counties. These results have direct practical value to analysts that are calculating evacuation time estimates for coastal jurisdictions. Moreover, they suggest directions for future research on the reasons for the timing of local officials’ hurricane evacuation decisions.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-20-0031.s1.

ORCID: 0000-0001-6972-5120.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Michael K. Lindell, mlindell@tamu.edu, mlindell@uw.edu

Abstract

Hurricane evacuation warnings from local officials are one of the most significant determinants of households’ evacuation departure times. Consequently, it is important to know how long after the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues a hurricane watch or warning that local officials wait to issue evacuation warnings. The distribution of local evacuation warning issuance delays determined from poststorm assessment data shows a wide range of warning issuance delay times over an 85-h time span, although the vast majority of times fall within a 40-h window. Nearly 30% of the jurisdictions issued evacuation warnings before an NHC hurricane warning. Only 5% delayed the decision for more than 25 h after the NHC hurricane warning. The curves for warning issuance delays, using both the NHC watch and NHC warning issuance times as reference points, are very different from the warning issuance curves observed for the rapid-onset events. The hurricane data exhibit much more of an “S shape” than the exponential shape that is seen for rapid-onset data. Instead, curves for three different types of storm tracks, defined by a perpendicular/parallel dimension and a straight/meandering dimension, follow three noticeably different logistic distributions. The data also indicate that warnings were issued significantly earlier for coastal counties than for inland counties. These results have direct practical value to analysts that are calculating evacuation time estimates for coastal jurisdictions. Moreover, they suggest directions for future research on the reasons for the timing of local officials’ hurricane evacuation decisions.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-20-0031.s1.

ORCID: 0000-0001-6972-5120.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Michael K. Lindell, mlindell@tamu.edu, mlindell@uw.edu

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