Geographic Distributions of Extreme Weather Risk Perceptions in the United States

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Weather and climate disasters pose an increasing risk to life and property in the United States. Managing this risk requires objective information about the nature of the threat and subjective information about how people perceive it. Meteorologists and climatologists have a relatively firm grasp of the historical objective risk. For example, we know which parts of the United States are most likely to experience drought, heat waves, flooding, snow or ice storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. We know less about the geographic distribution of the perceived risks of meteorological events and trends. Do subjective perceptions align with exposure to weather risks? This question is difficult to answer because analysts have yet to develop a comprehensive and spatially consistent methodology for measuring risk perceptions across geographic areas in the United States. In this project, we propose a methodology that uses multilevel regression and poststratification to estimate extreme weather and climate risk perceptions by geographic area (i.e., region, state, forecast area, and county). Then we apply the methodology using data from three national surveys (n = 9,542). This enables us to measure, map, and compare perceptions of risk from multiple weather hazards in geographic areas across the country.