Date of Award

August 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil Engineering

Committee Member

Pamela Murray-Tuite

Committee Member

Jennifer Ogle

Committee Member

Mashrur Chowdhury


Hurricane Irma struck the United States in 2017 and caused a massive evacuation across the State of Florida. This research uses traffic data collected across Florida to investigate the evacuation pattern during Hurricane Irma.

Although many local governments issued evacuation orders before Hurricane Irma made landfall, the public may not follow the evacuation orders closely. They may choose to evacuate before the orders take effect. This thesis analyzes seven major regions, including the Florida Key, Southeast, Marco Island, Tampa, Hernando, Polk, and Orlando Regions. The objectives of this research are to (1) identify the evacuation start time, evacuation peak time and reentry time of each region and relate these times to information released time and Irma landfall time and (2) examine the road utilization by road types as Hurricane Irma approached.

For the first objective, this research uses the traffic volume data to study the evacuation traffic pattern. Two methods, cumulative volume comparison and Wilcoxon Signed-Rank test, are provided and they work together to identify the evacuation start time of different regions. Also, the evacuation peak time and traffic reentry time are identified for each region, based on traffic volumes.

For the second objective, this research calculates the volume to capacity ratio and density at different traffic count stations to examine the road utilization in three types of roads: Freeway, Multilane Highway and Two-lane Highway. The study explores the reasons why the volume to capacity ratio is less than 1.0 when the density indicates level of service (LOS) F.

The results show that the evacuation started before evacuation orders took effect for the seven analysis regions. Volume to capacity and LOS analysis results show that Freeways were more frequently congested than Multilane highways and Two-Lane highways during evacuation.



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