Hurricane Irma, which threatened nine out of ten local Florida television markets, provided a unique case study to survey Floridians to examine the relationship between media-related variables, risk perception, and protective decision-making. Hurricane-specific variables such as severity and forecast track were the most frequently cited reasons for evacuating. As in previous research, risk perception and the perceived vulnerability of one's home were motivating factors for hurricane evacuation. Local television news was the most important source for hurricane information. Trust in local news and viewing a weathercast in the last twenty-four hours were related to risk perception. This study was the first to examine the one-sided parasocial relationship (PSR) that develops between a viewer and a local television news or weathercaster and the viewer's response to a hurricane. Although PSR was not related to hurricane risk perception or protective actions as anticipated, this article explores reasons that may have led to this surprising result including changes in the media landscape, or the potential for the weathercaster to play different roles in different extreme weather events. The findings contribute to our understanding of information use during a hurricane. It also raises questions about the future of media influence on decision-making.


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pp. 23-47
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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