Aggregated responses of human mobility to severe winter storms: An empirical study

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Increasing frequency of extreme winter storms has resulted in costly damages and a disruptive impact on the northeastern United States. It is important to understand human mobility patterns during such storms for disaster preparation and relief operations. We investigated the effects of severe winter storms on human mobility during a 2015 blizzard using 2.69 million Twitter geolocations. We found that displacements of different trip distances and radii of gyration of individuals' mobility were perturbed significantly. We further explored the characteristics of perturbed mobility during the storm, and demonstrated that individuals' recurrent mobility does not have a higher degree of similarity with their perturbed mobility, when comparing with its similarity to non-perturbed mobility. These empirical findings on human mobility impacted by severe winter storms have potential long-term implications on emergency response planning and the development of strategies to improve resilience in severe winter storms.