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Researchers look for ways to predict response to hurricane evacuation orders

Researchers look for ways to predict response to hurricane evacuation orders

Millions of people will likely be in harm's way as a new hurricane season unfolds in the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts up to eight hurricanes in the 2016 season, and as many as four major storms with winds of 111 miles per hour or more. What people do – or don't do – to get out of harm's way is of keen interest to disaster and emergency response officials.

Plans and contingencies work best when they are based on reliable predictions. Having a good idea of what people are likely to do, when they're likely to do it and how they are likely to go about it helps authorities choose the best evacuation strategy. It gives them useful information about what kind of traffic surge to expect and how best to steer it.

Researchers at the University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center have been studying evacuation data and predictors for years and have published two new papers that may help to improve prediction models used by emergency planners, leading to more efficient evacuations and possibly saving lives.