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Atmosphere 2018, 9(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos9010032

Decision Science Perspectives on Hurricane Vulnerability: Evidence from the 2010–2012 Atlantic Hurricane Seasons

1
Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
2
Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy and RSMAS, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33149, USA
3
School for International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
4
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 September 2017 / Revised: 12 January 2018 / Accepted: 17 January 2018 / Published: 20 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Cyclones and Their Impacts)
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Abstract

Although the field has seen great advances in hurricane prediction and response, the economic toll from hurricanes on U.S. communities continues to rise. We present data from Hurricanes Earl (2010), Irene (2011), Isaac (2012), and Sandy (2012) to show that individual and household decisions contribute to this vulnerability. From phone surveys of residents in communities threatened by impending hurricanes, we identify five decision biases or obstacles that interfere with residents’ ability to protect themselves and minimize property damage: (1) temporal and spatial myopia, (2) poor mental models of storm risk, (3) gaps between objective and subjective probability estimates, (4) prior storm experience, and (5) social factors. We then discuss ways to encourage better decision making and reduce the economic and emotional impacts of hurricanes, using tools such as decision defaults (requiring residents to opt out of precautions rather than opt in) and tailoring internet-based forecast information so that it is local, specific, and emphasizes impacts rather than probability. View Full-Text
Keywords: tropical cyclone impact on humans; natural hazards; decision making; choice architecture; hurricanes tropical cyclone impact on humans; natural hazards; decision making; choice architecture; hurricanes
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Milch, K.; Broad, K.; Orlove, B.; Meyer, R. Decision Science Perspectives on Hurricane Vulnerability: Evidence from the 2010–2012 Atlantic Hurricane Seasons. Atmosphere 2018, 9, 32.

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