Testing a new hurricane scale

An experimental test of risk perceptions under a new hurricane classification system

With Nadia Bloemendaal and Amy Polen.

Abstract: During a hurricane, it is vital that individuals receive communications that are easy to process and provide sufficient information to allow informed hurricane evacuation decisions and prevent loss of life. Without satisfactory and complete information, an individual is likely to miscalculate their personal risk or even potentially be moved to inaction. However, much recent research has shown an over-reliance on the currently-utilized Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS) despite the fact that it only captures one aspect of a hurricane: the wind threat. Communications campaigns have been attempting to bridge this divide by providing additional information, but the importance of a category cannot be escaped. As such, researchers have begun to formulate more holistic hurricane classification systems that account for water-based hazards, the biggest killer in hurricane events. These scales have not been previously tested on a large scale to determine their usability and clarity as a practical risk communication tool. This study will observe the efficacy of the Tropical Cyclone Severity Scale, or TCSS Bloemendaal et al., 2021, in practice and its viability as a wide-reaching communications tool. Utilizing surveys and online experiments, we will identify potential differences in comprehension, risk perception, and anticipated evacuation decisions between the current SSHWS and the new TCSS. The information gained from this study will be leveraged to influence emergency planning and risk communication in the formation of a nationwide scale that best serves the public.

[in design phase]

Postdoctoral researcher

My research interests include experimental economics, behavioral economics and virtual reality.