Empirical evacuation response curve during hurricane Irene in Cape May County, New Jersey

Jian Li, Kaan Ozbay, Bekir Bartin, Shrisan Iyer, Jon Carnegie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding evacuation response behavior is critical for public officials in deciding when to issue emergency evacuation orders for an impending hurricane. Such behavior is typically measured by an evacuation response curve that represents the proportion of total evacuation demand over time. This study analyzes evacuation behavior and constructs an evacuation response curve on the basis of traffic data collected during Hurricane Irene in 2011 in Cape May County, New Jersey. The evacuation response curve follows a general S-shape with sharp upward changes in slope after the issuance of mandatory evacuation notices. These changes in slope represent quick response behavior, which may be caused in part by an easily mobilized tourist population, lack of hurricane evacuation experience, or the nature of the location, in this case a rural area with limited evacuation routes. Moreover, the widely used S-curves with different mathematical functions and the state-of-the-art behavior models are calibrated and compared with empirical data. The results show that the calibrated S-curves with logit and Rayleigh functions fit empirical data better. The evacuation behavior analysis and calibrated evacuation response models from this hurricane evacuation event may benefit evacuation planning in similar areas. In addition, traffic data used in this study may also be valuable for the comparative analysis of traffic patterns between the evacuation periods and regular weekdays and weekends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number2376
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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