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Army Engineers Developing Plan For Hurricane Evacuations In Md.

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Getting out of the way of dangerous weather takes long range studies and planning.

Alex DeMetrick reports, the Army Corps of Engineers is currently studying evacuation data for Maryland.

Even in nice weather, heavy traffic is common throughout coastal Maryland.

And that is one of the reasons that a major evacuation for the area takes advanced planning.

"So that you can get people to safety before life-threatening conditions occur," says Carla Quinn, who manages the National Hurricane Program for the Army Corps.

It's not just the wind from hurricanes that's dangerous, she says. It's storm surge.

In fact, "it's the greatest threat to life safety in hurricanes."

Quinn says the Corps is currently updating a Maryland Hurricane Evacuation study, which provides information for local governments to develop evacuation zones and escape routes for the most vulnerable areas.

"The National Hurricane Center runs models and creates basins to show which areas might be flooded in a hurricane," according to Quinn.

Current NOAA maps predict a Category 1 hurricane could generate six feet of storm surge in Dorchester and Somerset counties and in Middle River and White Marsh.

A Category 4 storm could create nine feet of surge.

Storm surge maps played a role in Maryland's last mandatory evacuation. In 2011, Hurricane Irene forced tens of thousands to leave Ocean City, which was spared the worst of the storm.

Delaware and New Jersey endured the brunt of the storm's flooding. But just a year later, Hurricane Sandy's storm surge swept into the southern Maryland town of Crisfield.

Sandy and the effects of other recent hurricanes will also play into the Corps study of how to best get people out of the way.

The study analyzes everything from population growth to new roadways to determine how long it would take for local emergency managers to safely evacuate threatened communities.

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