What’s it like to experience the terror of a hurricane storm surge flooding your home? Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn, an associate professor of advertising in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, wants you to find out.

Ahn directs the Games and Virtual Environments Lab, where she and her team conduct interdisciplinary research on the experience and effects of immersion in virtual- and mixed-reality environments. This video provides a two-dimensional glimpse of the 3D virtual experience Ahn developed to warn coastal residents of the dangers of staying in place during an evacuation order.

“Virtual reality is particularly good at placing users in a situation that can be potentially fatal or even impossible in the physical world, in a way that’s very realistic to the senses,” Ahn said.

By experiencing a storm in a virtual world, Ahn provided a way to see just how dangerous hurricanes can be. Users can look in all directions and see the water entering a house and surrounding them with debris, mud and furniture, making it difficult for them to move, much less leave. At the end, the simulation shows what someone should do in such a situation.

“It’s a very visceral, frightening experience,” said Ahn.

To learn more about UGA’s efforts to help residents—in Georgia and beyond—live and prosper among the natural and man-made forces at work along the coasts, read this story.