Bill Tancer at Hitwise referenced a drive-time radio news story asserting that Hurricane Katrina has led to increased concern and preparedness for the 2006 Hurricane season which starts today. He offers the chart below showing search term breadth: searches for all terms containing "hurricane" over a fifteen-month period.
He then says:
If we assume that search term data provides us with insight into societal concerns, we see that peaks in hurricane related searches only occur immediately before and after the hit of an approaching storm. If the news story assertion were true, I would expect to see an elevated level of searches as we enter this year’s season. The trouble is; based on our search term data, society really hasn’t changed since my childhood map plotting days.
To add a little more color to this story, consider the following Blogpulse six-month chart (from my company) indicating the share of all blog posts that mentioned "hurricane", "katrina" and "Hurricane Katrina". Interestingly, if average Internet users are not really searching for information about Hurricanes now, bloggers sure as heck are talking about them. Also interesting is the fact that most hurricane discussion appears to be in context of Katrina, as indicated by the extremely tight correlations between the keywords "Katrina" and "Hurricane". A lot of the discussion is not necessarily about preparedness, as Bill describes above, but about numerous issues related to Katrina aftermath.
Click on the charts above for hi-res images.