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Battery-power option boosts radio role in storm information

(Sept. 1, 2010)   —   When a hurricane is pending, 53 percent of eastern North Carolina residents and 76 percent of businesses and organizations turn to public and commercial radio for storm information — and 85 percent of residents have a battery-operated radio ready if a storm hits.

According to a recent study by East Carolina University researchers, residents in 20 counties rate the quality of broadcast radio's severe weather information as excellent (22 percent) or very good (41 percent).

"Even in this Internet age, the findings show that radio is a widely used source of local hurricane information. It is accessible during emergencies including power outages," said Catherine F. Smith, who led the study funded by North Carolina Sea Grant.

"For those who prefer smart phones and laptops to get online info from weather forecasters or local and state agencies, now is the time to make sure that the batteries are fully charged — and consider spare batteries," Katie Mosher, North Carolina Sea Grant communications director, added.

The ECU study found that people now typically consult multiple sources when they need severe weather information. Radio is part of that mix. Seven percent of residents — and the same level for businesses and other organizations — say radio is their primary source.

When asked which radio stations they listened to, residents reported more than 60 different stations. The greatest response was "public radio" at 11 percent.

Emergency information broadcasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather radio are more popular among businesses and organizations, at 43 percent, compared to 36 percent of residents.

The ECU team — Smith and Donna J. Kain of the English Department, and sociologist Kenneth Wilson — surveyed or interviewed more than 1,000 residents and 700 businesses or organizations in eastern North Carolina for the 2009 study.

Detailed findings of the study of hurricane risk information use and emergency communication, including reports for each county, can be found at: www.ecu.edu/riskcomm.

An earlier summary of results about the study also is online at: TV remains primary eastern N.C. hurricane information source.

A story about this research project — Communicating Hurricanes: Accurate Information, Timely Delivery — appeared in the Autumn 2009 issue of Coastwatch magazine.

Contacts: 


Catherine F. Smith, 252-328-5513, smithcath@ecu.edu
Donna J. Kain, kaind@ecu.edu
Ken Wilson, wilsonk@ecu.edu
E-Ching Lee, 919-515-9098, eching_lee@ncsu.edu.

Courtesy of Katie Mosher of North Carolina Sea Grant.

 
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