Media use, risk perception and response during Hurricane Irma

Authors: Kathleen Sherman-Morris*, Mississippi State University, Christopher Nunley, Mississippi State University, Philip Poe, Mississippi State University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Communication, Behavioral Geography
Keywords: communication, hazards, hurricanes
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


This study examines the role of media, as well as other factors on individual-level actions taken during Hurricane Irma, which impacted Florida in September, 2017. Information provided by the media play an important role in one’s decision making when faced with a risk. To better understand this role, 379 Floridians were surveyed following Hurricane Irma’s landfall. Several factors were found to influence evacuation behavior including hurricane track and severity, which appeared to be the driving factor on whether one evacuated or chose to remain at home. Personal risk perception was also measured. When respondents did not feel safe in their homes, they were more likely to evacuate. Perceived likelihood that one would be affected by Irma and perceived concern were also positively related to evacuation. These findings agree with previous research showing that risk perception is a motivating factor for hurricane evacuation. Local television news viewership has decreased in the past decade. However, research shows that local television news ratings still increase during natural disasters. During Irma, respondents cited local television news as their most important source for hurricane information followed by the Weather Channel, the National Hurricane Center and the local National Weather Service. The number of information sources used prior to the hurricane and frequency of obtaining a forecast were positively related to perceived risk. Trust in, and the relationship with the local weathercaster were also examined. Neither was related to protective behaviors, although trust was related to perceived likelihood of being personally affected by Irma.

Abstract Information

This abstract is already part of a session. View the session here.

To access contact information login