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As Hurricane Season Kicks Off, UCF Researchers Working to Make Communities More Resilient

More than a dozen researchers are working on a wide variety of research that looks to prepare, respond, and mitigate hurricane impacts in Florida and beyond.
By: UCF News | June 1, 2022
More than a dozen researchers are working on a wide variety of research that looks to prepare, respond, and mitigate hurricane impacts in Florida and beyond. This is from Hurricane Michael in 2018. File art. (Photo by James E. Wyatt / U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Reuters)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted another busy hurricane season with up to 21 named storms for 2022. While we still can’t predict exactly when hurricanes will strike, researchers at UCF are working on various projects to help communities properly prepare and recover when it does happen.

Resiliency and the use of technology are key in the work being done at UCF. Here’s a roundup of some of the many relevant research projects by CECS researchers and how they can potentially help residents in Florida and beyond.

Predicting Traffic for Better Evacuations
Samiul Hasan

Engineering Assistant Professor Samiul Hasan is looking for ways to better understand real-time individual, social and agency behavior during evacuations caused by rapidly intensifying hurricanes (RIH). These kinds of hurricanes quickly intensify making critical infrastructure management and smooth evacuations more challenging. Hasan and the rest of the research team are analyzing the “dynamics of risk information processing and decision making to inform the design, development, improvisation, and overall evacuation management for critical transportation infrastructure. The insights from the research are expected to help facilitate safer evacuations and more efficiently organize risk-averting behaviors during RIH,” the researchers say of the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded project that is expected to wrap up in 2023. Hasan also is studying how real-time data from roadway systems and social media can help predict traffic demand during hurricane evacuations. Hasan used data from hurricanes Matthew, and Irma.

Reducing Crashes During Evacuation Rush

Rezaur Rahman ’19MS ’21PhD, a former doctoral student in Hasan’s lab, also investigated how we might reduce the number of crashes on the roadways during stressful evacuation times. In his study, published last year, he evaluated the safety impact of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) systems during a hurricane evacuation. The team developed a microscopic simulation model of evacuation traffic and calibrated it using traffic data from an almost 10-mile stretch of I-75 between Ocala and Gainesville, Florida, during Hurricane Irma’s evacuation period. Rahman’s model found that by using cruise control crashes could potentially be reduced by almost 50 percent, and travel time improves despite heavy stop-and-go traffic. The SAFER-SIM University Transportation Center, a consortium of  various universities including UCF, supported this study.

Hurricanes and Sea Level Rise
Thomas Wahl

Engineering Assistant Professor Thomas Wahl and his team are working on a new method to determine where extreme events, like 100-year storm floods, are more likely to occur, whether the likelihood of such extremes is changing over time, and why.

These projects are but a snapshot of the research that goes on at UCF to help people and communities be better prepared for hurricanes. As the work continues, new findings will be shared with the public, policymakers, and emergency managers to help ensure we stay resilient during hurricane season.

See the full UCF Today story by Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala, UCF Office of Research