Hurricane Irene evacuation traffic patterns in New Jersey

Jian Li, Kaan Ozbay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During an impending hurricane, it's critical that public officials fully understand evacuation traffic characteristics when deciding upon an emergency management strategy. This case study analyzes the temporal and spatial Hurricane Irene evacuation traffic patterns in New Jersey based on real-world traffic data. The analysis shows that the most significant evacuation movements were located in the southern region of the state, closest to the shore area. The vast majority of the evacuation traffic moved westward, instead of traveling northbound along the area made vulnerable by the storm. Moreover, the evacuees responded very quickly to the mandatory emergency order issued by the governor of New Jersey. The evacuation traffic patterns are similar to the typical outbound traffic seen in the shore area at the end of a summer weekend but with departure times that were three to four hours earlier than usual. Finally, in examining the evacuation traffic patterns and collected travel time data, the authors also identified traffic bottlenecks, which were generally at merge areas in the vicinity of on/off ramps or interchanges. The empirical findings in this study may benefit emergency planning and management in areas with circumstances similar to New Jersey.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number05014006
JournalNatural Hazards Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Social Sciences


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