Using Highways During Evacuation Operations for Events with Advance Notice

Routes to Effective Evacuation Planning Primer Series

Produced in collaboration with the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO)

Evacuation, Weather, and Assessment Monitoring and Prediction Tools

The following are transportation, weather, and assessment monitoring and prediction tools that can support an evacuation.

Clarus—This is a system that helps predict weather conditions. For those evacuating in advance of a severe storm, weather information plays a key role in their safety. Tropical storms and hurricanes may spawn tornados well in advance of the front and may inundate an area very rapidly. Many victims of storms actually perish due to resultant flooding or secondary tornados. Travelers must be aware of the weather and their environment at all times when evacuating an area. Clarus and other modeling tools that are available through the National Weather Center are vital to assessing dangers to evacuees while traveling along the evacuation route.

Consequence Assessment Tool Set/Joint Assessment of Catastrophic Events (CATS/JACE)—This model was developed under the guidance of FEMA and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The CATS/JACE software provides disaster analysis in real time with an array of information integrated from a variety of sources. The software is deployable for actual emergencies with capabilities including contingency and logistical planning as well as consequence management. The CATS program integrates hazard prediction, consequence assessment, and emergency management tools with critical population and infrastructure data. It uses tools and data that predict the hazard areas caused by manmade events and natural disasters including earthquakes and hurricanes. CATS assists with estimating collateral damage to facilities, resources, and infrastructure, and creates mitigation strategies for responders.

Dynamic Network Assignment-Simulation Model for Advanced Road Telematics (Planning version)—DYNASMART-P—FHWA supported the development of this model by the University of Maryland to support network planning and traffic operations decisions through the use of simulation-based dynamic traffic assignment. FHWA is examining the application of this model for emergency transportation management analysis.

Evacuation Traffic Information System (ETIS)—FHWA currently supports the ETIS, which is a web-based program that facilitates the sharing of evacuation and traffic information among coastal states in the Gulf Coast and southeast from Texas to Virginia. The ETIS supports decisions such as evacuation type (e.g., voluntary, mandatory, staged) and implementation of contraflow or lane-reversal operations. The ETIS was originally developed under U.S. Army Corps of Engineers auspices, but is now under FHWA sponsorship, and operated by its private developers.

Evacuation Travel Demand Forecasting System—This is a macro-level evacuation modeling and analysis system that was developed in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd to address the need to forecast and anticipate large, cross-state traffic volumes. This is a web-based travel demand forecast system that anticipates evacuation traffic congestion and cross-state travel flows for North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The Evacuation Travel Demand Forecasting System model was designed so emergency management officials can access the model on-line and input hurricane category, expected evacuation participation rate, tourist occupancy, and destination percentages for impacted counties. The output of the model includes the expected level of congestion on major highways and tables of vehicle volumes expected to cross state lines by direction.

Hazard U.S.—Multihazard (HAZUS-MH MR2)—Developed by FEMA, this model is a loss estimation and risk assessment program covering earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding. By modeling the physical world of buildings and structures and then subjecting it to the complex consequences of a hazard event, users can implement this tool to prepare for a natural disaster, respond to the threat, and analyze the potential loss of life, injuries, and property damage.

Hurricane and Evacuation (HURREVAC)—This is a program that uses GIS data to correlate demographic data with shelter locations and their proximity to evacuation routes to estimate the effect of strategic-level evacuation decisions.

MASS eVACuation (MASSVAC)—This is a macro-level model originally developed for the purpose of modeling nuclear power plant evacuations. More recently, it was applied to test operational strategies for hurricane evacuations in Virginia.

Network Emergency Evacuation (NETVAC)—NETVAC was developed as part of the reaction to the Three-Mile Island nuclear reactor incident in 1979. While strong in terms of a response to a Point-A-to-Point-B situation, it is limited in application to hurricane evacuation, which often includes multiple Points A and B. However, transportation and emergency managers may seek to use this model to analyze route selection, intersection controls, and lane management.

Oak Ridge Evacuation Modeling System (OREMS)—This is an evacuation analysis tool designed to simulate traffic flow during various defense-oriented emergency evacuations. The model can be used to estimate clearance times and identify operational traffic characteristics and other information such as evacuation routes and times necessary to develop evacuation plans. It also allows users to experiment with alternate routes, destinations, traffic control and management strategies, and evacuees’ response rates.

Plume Modeling Tools—These are models used to predict where a plume may travel from its release location. The plume may be created by a radiological release, chemical release, smoke from fires, or some other situation that causes airborne contaminants to travel across an area. There are many plume models in use and most are specific to the type of event and can be modified to accept site specific data such as wind speed, direction, and others factors affecting the spread of the plume. Such models are important in determining where a plume may spread and how fast it may travel, and in defining a geographic area that should be evacuated or an area for occupants to shelter-in-place.

Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH)—The most widely applied flooding model for evacuation analysis is the SLOSH model. Developed by the NWS to predict hurricane storm surge for a given set of conditions (e.g., hurricane strength, wind speed, direction of movement, and geography), it is also used to help plan evacuation routes and locate emergency shelters based on estimates of which geographic areas could be flooded under certain storm scenarios. The NHC, in coordination with Federal, State, and local organizations, has developed SLOSH models for over 38 water basins along the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean coastal areas with 14 “SLOSH Basins” covering the State of Florida

Traffic Estimation and Prediction System (TrEPS)—FHWA has been working on Dynamic Traffic Assignment research projects. The main objective of the research projects is to develop a deployable real time Traffic Estimation and Prediction System (TrEPS).