The use of the Florida 511 Advanced Traveler Information System hit a record the day after Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle.
Hurricane Michael is the most powerful storm to hit the Florida Panhandle since records have been kept. The fast-moving storm made landfall on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 as a category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. The eye crossed over the small coastal community of Mexico Beach, roared north through the Panhandle, and exited the state into Georgia. It then made its way through parts of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia before heading out to the Atlantic. It left a path of death and destruction in its wake.
In preparation for Michael, the state of Florida ordered at least 120,000 people to evacuate areas of the Panhandle. Many others voluntarily decided to leave for fear of storm surge, high winds, torrential rain and loss of power.
Gov. Rick Scott urged Floridians to use FL511 to assist with their evacuation plans.
The numbers tell the story. FL511 experienced record use during Hurricane Michael. On Thursday, October 11th, the website broke its previous record for the day: 52,603 users logged onto the site that day. This number is a 2,099% increase from the same day last year. It is up approximately 1,575% compared to the average for the previous week. Website use peaked on October 11th at 10 a.m., with 6,818 visitors.
Other FL511 platforms experienced heavy use too: the iPhone app was up approximately 675% compared to the average for the previous week (October 1st to 7th). For the same time period, FL511 Android app use was up 590%; IVR (interactive voice response) was up 475% and Twitter was up 112%.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and state of Florida suggest Floridians may want to consider adding FL511 to their hurricane preparedness toolkits. Information provided on traffic, road conditions and severe weather help residents evacuate more safely and efficiently – often under great stress and when the roads are very crowded. FL511 helped Panhandle residents safely evacuate before Hurricane Michael, and determine when and how to return in its aftermath. For more information on the system, visit the website.