They warn. They plead. They scold and cajole. Forecasters and public officials will try just about anything to get residents to flee coastlines ahead of a hurricane. Last year as Hurricane Harvey barreled toward the Gulf Coast, the mayor pro tem of Rockport, Tex., said people who insisted on staying should “mark their arm with a Sharpie pen — put their Social Security number on it and their name.”
Fearing that Hurricane Florence could also be deadly, the governors of North and South Carolina ordered evacuations this week in many coastal counties. But experts know that not all residents will heed the warnings, and some say part of the reason is that storm forecasts and risks are inadequately communicated to the public.
“There’s a big gap between the forecasts that are available within the weather community and in some cases the information that people receive and are able to use,” said Rebecca Morss, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.