Increasing hurricane damages

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:53 PM GMT on December 05, 2008

Share this Blog
2
+

A conference called the Hurricane Science for Safety Leadership Forum convened this week in Orlando to look at how we can better prepare for the inevitable hurricanes in our future. The conference brought together an interesting mix of experts--scientists from environmental groups like the National Wildlife Federation, insurance industry representitives, and a representative from the pro-business Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

There are a number of interesting Powerpoint and video presentations posted on their web site, for those interested. The most eye-opening fact I saw came during a presentation done by Amanda Staudt of the National Wildlife Federation. In her presentation on the policy implication of hurricanes and climate change, she showed that the population of South Florida is projected to grow from a 1990 population of 6.3 million to a 2050 population of 15-30 million people. That's a startling increase in population. Higher and higher hurricane damage tabs are inevitable in coming decades, just from this huge increase in population. She goes further, showing that if the theoretical predictions for global warming by the end of the century come true--a 2-13% increase in hurricane winds due to ocean warming, a 10-31% increase in hurricane rainfall, and an increase in sea level of several feet--there is likely to be a huge increase in hurricane damage, and probably in deaths, as well.

I have a few comments on this. While I believe that hurricane damages will continue to grow primarily because of population increases, higher wealth, and poor land management, the contribution of increased damage due to global warming will start to become significant by the end of the century. The 5% increase in hurricane winds per °C of ocean warming theorized by hurricane researcher Dr. Kerry Emanuel (Emanuel, 2005) may not seem like much, it will make a significant difference in the destructive power of the strongest storms. A Category 4 hurricane does about four times more damage than a Category 3 hurricane, and 250 times more damage than a Category 1 storm (Figure 1). Given the expected increase of tropical sea surface temperatures of 1-2 °C by 2100, hurricane wind speeds should increase by 5-10%. Since the difference in wind speed between a Category 3 and Category 4 hurricane is about 15%, we can anticipate that the strongest hurricanes in 2100 will do 1 1/2 to 3 times more damage than they do now.

This may be an underestimate of the increase in damage, though. Global sea level rose about 0.75 feet last century, and is expected to rise 0.6 - 1.9 feet this century, according to the "official" word on climate, the 2007 report of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A paper published by Pfeffer et al. in Science this year concluded that the IPCC underestimated sea level rise, and that the "most likely" range of sea level rise by 2100 is 2.6 - 6.6 feet. If true, we can expect greatly increased damage from hurricane storm surges. However, it is possible that there will be fewer hurricanes by the end of the century, thanks to an increase in wind shear over the tropical Atlantic (Vecchi and Soden, 2007).


Figure 1. Potential hurricane damage as a function of Saffir-Simpson category for U.S. hurricanes between 1925-1995. If the median damage from a Category 1 hurricane is normalized to be a "one", then Category 2, 3, and 4 hurricanes were 10, 50, and 250 times more damaging, respectively. Data taken from Pielke, Jr. R. A., and C. W. Landsea, 1998: "Normalized Atlantic hurricane damage 1925-1995" Wea. Forecasting, 13, pp.621-631.

Better building codes
Congressman Bennie Thompson, D-MS, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, helped to kick off the conference with opening remarks that underscored his intention to hold Congressional hearings on developing new building codes in hurricane-prone areas. He was hopeful that President-elect Obama and new incoming head of Homeland Security, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, would work to adopt new, tougher building standards. "Take a look at the homes on the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas that are still standing after the hurricane," Thompson said. "We know how to build stronger homes. Now we just need to do it." Thompson said that while such legislation had been introduced in the past but failed, chances were better under an Obama administration of passage.

I think it is essential that more stringent and comprehensive building codes get adopted in hurricane alley to reduce the inevitable huge price tags from future hurricanes.

References
Emanuel, K. 2005, "Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years", Nature, 436, 4 August 2005, doi:10.1038/nature03906.

Vecchi, G.A., and B.J. Soden, 2007, "Increased tropical Atlantic wind shear in model projections of global warming", Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L08702, doi:10.1029/2006GL028905, 2007.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 262 - 212

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11Blog Index

262. presslord
12:12 PM GMT on December 08, 2008
What are you folks doin' up this early?!?!?!?!?!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
260. JRRP
12:05 PM GMT on December 08, 2008
Link
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5800
259. IKE
12:01 PM GMT on December 08, 2008
Quoting vortfix:
Stop yappin Ike!

51 here this mornin!

LOL



LOL...it does seem like I'm talking to myself on here....lol..........
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
257. IKE
11:39 AM GMT on December 08, 2008
Current satellite....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
256. IKE
11:30 AM GMT on December 08, 2008
From Tallahassee,FL....

SHORT TERM...
(TODAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY) A SHORT-LIVED WARMING TREND WILL BEGIN
THIS AFTERNOON AS DEEP LAYER RIDGING DEVELOPS OVER THE EASTERN CONUS
AND A MAJOR TROUGH DEVELOPS OVER THE CENTRAL PLAINS. BOUNDARY LAYER
AND DEEP LAYER MOISTURE IS FORECAST BY ALL THE GUIDANCE TO QUICKLY
RETURN TO OUR AREA AS THE GULF OF MEXICO OPENS AHEAD OF AN
APPROACHING COLD FRONT. RAIN CHANCES WILL INCREASE FROM WEST TO EAST
ON TUESDAY...PEAKING IN THE LIKELY TO CATEGORICAL RANGE WEDNESDAY
AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE COLD FRONT IS SCHEDULED TO CROSS OUR REGION
DURING THE DAY ON WEDNESDAY...WITH THE NAM BEING A BIT SLOWER THAN
THE GFS...GFS ENSEMBLE MEAN...AND ECMWF. THE GFS FORECAST
SOUNDING/HODOGRAPH FOR TALLAHASSEE AT 18 UTC WEDNESDAY (JUST AHEAD
OF THE COLD FRONT) SHOWS A SBCAPE OF 1100 J/KG...0-6 KM VERTICAL
WIND SHEAR OF 40-50 KT...AND 0-1 KM VERTICAL WIND SHEAR OF 30-35 KT.
HOWEVER (AS SPC POINTS OUT ON THEIR DAY-3 CONVECTIVE
OUTLOOK)...THERE IS STILL QUITE A BIT OF UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE
TIMING AND LOCATION OF STRONG VERTICAL FORCING...SO WE WILL REFRAIN
FROM MENTIONING A SEVERE THREAT FOR NOW. VIRTUALLY ALL OF THE
NUMERICAL GUIDANCE HAS BEEN VERY CONSISTENT IN FORECASTING
WIDESPREAD RAINFALL AMOUNTS FROM 1 TO 3 INCHES OVER OUR AREA WITH
THIS SYSTEM...WHICH OFTEN MEANS THERE WILL BE ISOLATED AMOUNTS
DOUBLE THIS RANGE.

.LONG TERM...
(WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH MONDAY) THE LARGE SCALE PATTERN IS
EXPECTED TO UNDERGO A SIGNIFICANT SHIFT DURING THE EXTENDED
PERIOD. THE EURO AND GFS HAVE MAINTAINED THEIR RECENT TREND COMING
INTO BETTER AGREEMENT ON THE EVOLUTION AND TIMING OF THE VIGOROUS
SHORT WAVE CURRENTLY DROPPING SOUTHEAST OVER THE NORTHERN
ROCKIES...WHICH IS FORECAST TO DEVELOP A CUTOFF LOW THAT WILL MOVE
EASTWARD ALONG THE NORTHERN GULF COAST WEDNESDAY NIGHT. AHEAD OF
THE UPPER LEVEL SYSTEM...A SURFACE WAVE IS FORECAST TO MOVE
NORTHEASTWARD ALONG THE FRONT...ACROSS THE SOUTHEASTERN U.S. ON
WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY. TEMPERATURES WILL DROP BELOW CLIMO
WITH FROST AND FREEZING TEMPERATURES POSSIBLE SOME AREAS ON FRIDAY
AND SATURDAY MORNINGS. HOWEVER...THE LARGE SCALE PATTERN IS
UNDERGOING A RETROGRESSION...WITH THE MEAN UPPER TROF SHIFTING TO
THE WESTERN U.S. AND THE EASTERN U.S. COMING UNDER AN UPPER LEVEL
RIDGE. EXPECT THIS TO RESULT IN TEMPERATURES RETURNING TO NEAR OR
A LITTLE ABOVE CLIMO BY THE FIRST OF NEXT WEEK. ONE ADDITIONAL
ITEM OF POSSIBLE INTEREST IS THAT CURRENT TEMPERATURE AND MOISTURE
FORECASTS INDICATE THE SLIGHT POSSIBILITY OF A MIX OF RAIN AND
SNOW OVER PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST ALABAMA EARLY THURSDAY MORNING.
HOWEVER...IT IS WAY TOO EARLY TO MAKE THAT CALL AT THIS POINT...AND
WILL NOT INCLUDE IN ANY OF THE CURRENT FORECASTS.
.............

by next week the eastern USA will be above normal in temps.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
255. IKE
11:28 AM GMT on December 08, 2008
I've got 36.3 degrees outside my house...winds are starting to increase from the east and SE...warmer today before a dumping of rain moves in.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
254. MissNadia
11:21 AM GMT on December 08, 2008
Morning Ike and AL4
Cold sunrise in Wilmington
31F with clear skies
Light winds and 50F forecast for the day
Member Since: July 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3002
253. IKE
11:18 AM GMT on December 08, 2008
6Z GFS(at 84 hours), is back on board w/a GOM low forming on the system heading into the eastern USA this week....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
252. all4hurricanes
10:55 AM GMT on December 08, 2008
One of the lows just went poof
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2372
249. BtnTx
Ok the blog did not die as it is still here. It is the participation that has waned. Gnight all. And special intentions to Surfmom's family and Tampaspin and My 101 year old Grandmother in the hospital..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Somebody looking for me? Heh heh. Hey Pottery, heard you liked Canada goose. Suppose to be two of them flying south from NC, will keep my eyes opened for them for you! LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
247. BtnTx
Wow the blog died just like our EDIT>oops better be carefull what one posts!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
246. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
WWJP25 Tropical Disturbance Summary
09:00 AM JST December 8 2008
=============================================

At 9:00 AM JST, Tropical Depression (1004 hPa) located near 16.0N 170.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts up to 40 knots. The depression is reported as moving southwest at 15 knots.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
WEATHER OUTLOOK POSTED:
South Florida StormWatch
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
A new post from SURFMOM at RobDaHood's blog. Good news.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
WEATHER BRO-Here in central Tennesee it has been colder than normal for a month or even longer.Hoping for a little relief.Doesnt look good.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks like the east is gonna have a severe weather event(with heavy snow for the northeast and eventually a little as far south as Georgia). Following it's heels is an arctic blast which models are indicating will be the coldest air of the season to end the second week of December!

At first I thought it was a GFS glitch. But now the European model is showing this. Though without the severe weather.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
238. mobal
Imagine that, Doc Masters on the global warming wagon again........

In all respect to him, I do not buy into it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
237. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)


94W
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The Philippine lows
Link
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2372
235. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospherical Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration

At 2:00 A.M PhST, a Low Pressure Area was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 70 kms North of Borongan, Eastern Samar (12.2°N 125.5°E).

Meanwhile, another Low Pressure Area was estimated at 200 kms South Southwest of Puerto Princesa City (8.0°N 118.3°E).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
234. IKE
Looks like warmer weather and warmer then normal for the eastern USA in the 6-10 day extended temperature outlook....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
233. IKE
Upcoming storm and it's affects on the USA with the latest 18Z GFS through 84 hours....Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
231. IKE
Quoting vortfix:
Gustav will be retired. No doubt.


Right...now what about FEMA??



Looks like they need to be retired too. They do a less than stellar job....actually they do an awful job.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
i apologize i was reading a chat on accuweather that said that gustav would not retire
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
227. IKE
Quoting all4hurricanes:
I don't know who said Gustav wouldn't retire but I'm sure they're hiding now


Gustav will be retired. No doubt.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
I don't know who said Gustav wouldn't retire but I'm sure they're hiding now
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2372
225. IKE
About Elena, from Wikipedia.....

Retirement

See also: List of retired Atlantic hurricane names

The name Elena was retired in the spring of 1986 and will never be used for an Atlantic hurricane again.[9] To date, Elena is the only Atlantic storm name that has been retired without causing any direct casualties.



Elena, near peak intensity....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
224. IKE
From Wikipedia....

"Hurricane Gustav (pronounced /ˈgʊstɑːv/) was the seventh tropical cyclone, third hurricane and second major hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Gustav caused serious damage and casualties in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and the United States. Gustav caused $8.3 billion (2008 USD) in damages.[1]

It formed on the morning of August 25, 2008, about 260 miles (420 km) southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and rapidly strengthened into a tropical storm that afternoon and into a hurricane early on August 26. Later that day it made landfall near the Haitian town of Jacmel. It inundated Jamaica and ravaged Western Cuba and then steadily moved across the Gulf of Mexico.[2][3]

On August 31, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicted with 81% probability that Gustav would remain at Category 3 or above on September 1, but on September 1 at 9:30 a.m. CDT (1430 UTC) the center of Gustav made landfall in the United States along the Louisiana coast near Cocodrie as a strong Category 2 hurricane—1 mph below Category 3—and dropped to Category 1 four hours later,[4] and to a tropical depression the following day. Gustav continued moving northwest through Louisiana, before slowing down significantly as it moved through Arkansas on September 3.

As of September 15, 138 deaths had been attributed to Gustav in the U.S. and Caribbean. Damage in the US totaled to $4.3 billion (2008 USD)[5] with additional damage of up to $4 billion in Cuba.[6]"


Gustav will be retired.

I notice 1985's Elena is on that list. Notice her # of deaths....The hurricane caused extensive beach erosion in Florida, while powerful waves damaged the oyster crop. Hurricane Elena was responsible for no direct deaths, though four people were indirectly killed due to the storm.....also from Wikipedia.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting hurricanemaniac123:
System545, Gustav will be retired! It caused over 8 billion dollars and damage and here's a list of retired storms that caused less than 8 billion dollars in damage:

Camille 1969 $7.5 billion
Jeanne 2004 $7.1 billion
Georges 1998 $6.8 billion
Frederic 1979 $6.5 billion
Mitch 1998 $5.8 billion
Diane 1955 $5.7 billion
Allison 2001 $5.4 billion
Floyd 1999 $5.1 billion
Dennis 2005 $5.0 billion
David 1979 $4.4 billion
Fran 1996 $3.9 billion
Alicia 1983 $3.8 billion
Fifi 1974 $3.7 billion
Opal 1995 $3.7 billion
Isabel 2003 $3.6 billion
Carol 1954 $3.2 billion
Flora 1963 $3.2 billion
Joan 1988 $3.2 billion
Luis 1995 $3.1 billion
Hazel 1954 $2.6 billion
Donna 1960 $2.5 billion
Allen 1980 $2.5 billion
Celia 1970 $2.3 billion
Michelle 2001 $2.2 billion
Bob 1991 $2.1 billion
Eloise 1975 $2.1 billion
Carla 1961 $2.0 billion
Marilyn 1995 $1.9 billion
Roxanne 1995 $1.9 billion
Gloria 1985 $1.6 billion
Dean 2007 $1.4 billion
Stan 2005 $1.5 billion
Inez 1966 $1.3 billion
Cleo 1964 $1.2 billion
Beulah 1967 $1.1 billion
Audrey 1957 $1.0 billion
Lili 2002 $920 million
Dora 1964 $910 million
Elena 1985 $800 million
Hilda 1964 $760 million
Noel 2007 $680 million
Carmen 1974 $630 million
Ione 1955 $600 million
Hortense 1996 $600 million
Lenny 1999 $380 million
Isidore 2002 $350 million
Connie 1955 $345 million
Janet 1955 $330 million
Fabian 2003 $320 million
Edna 1954 $280 million
Keith 2000 $250 million
Juan 2003 $210 million
Iris 2001 $160 million
Diana 1990 $130 million
Gracie* 1959 $90 million
Felix 2007 $50.3 million
Cesar 1996 $50 million
Klaus 1990 $1.6 million

Are you convinced yet?
these storms were deadly which gustav was not compared to these
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
maniac,

Gustav will be retired if somebody (i.e. an affected nation) requests the retirement. Emily 2005 wasn't retired because the most heavily affected populations could barely remember her damage due to even more destructive storms like Stan and Wilma blew through. That's how relatively "small" storms from our viewpoint have gotten retired.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
OK Top five best storms to track
5. Ike
4. Paloma
3. Gustav
2. Bertha
and the #1 best storm to track this year is *drum roll*
Fay for her extensive coverage and endless bag of tricks
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2372
System545, Gustav will be retired! It caused over 8 billion dollars and damage and here's a list of retired storms that caused less than 8 billion dollars in damage:

Camille 1969 $7.5 billion
Jeanne 2004 $7.1 billion
Georges 1998 $6.8 billion
Frederic 1979 $6.5 billion
Mitch 1998 $5.8 billion
Diane 1955 $5.7 billion
Allison 2001 $5.4 billion
Floyd 1999 $5.1 billion
Dennis 2005 $5.0 billion
David 1979 $4.4 billion
Fran 1996 $3.9 billion
Alicia 1983 $3.8 billion
Fifi 1974 $3.7 billion
Opal 1995 $3.7 billion
Isabel 2003 $3.6 billion
Carol 1954 $3.2 billion
Flora 1963 $3.2 billion
Joan 1988 $3.2 billion
Luis 1995 $3.1 billion
Hazel 1954 $2.6 billion
Donna 1960 $2.5 billion
Allen 1980 $2.5 billion
Celia 1970 $2.3 billion
Michelle 2001 $2.2 billion
Bob 1991 $2.1 billion
Eloise 1975 $2.1 billion
Carla 1961 $2.0 billion
Marilyn 1995 $1.9 billion
Roxanne 1995 $1.9 billion
Gloria 1985 $1.6 billion
Dean 2007 $1.4 billion
Stan 2005 $1.5 billion
Inez 1966 $1.3 billion
Cleo 1964 $1.2 billion
Beulah 1967 $1.1 billion
Audrey 1957 $1.0 billion
Lili 2002 $920 million
Dora 1964 $910 million
Elena 1985 $800 million
Hilda 1964 $760 million
Noel 2007 $680 million
Carmen 1974 $630 million
Ione 1955 $600 million
Hortense 1996 $600 million
Lenny 1999 $380 million
Isidore 2002 $350 million
Connie 1955 $345 million
Janet 1955 $330 million
Fabian 2003 $320 million
Edna 1954 $280 million
Keith 2000 $250 million
Juan 2003 $210 million
Iris 2001 $160 million
Diana 1990 $130 million
Gracie* 1959 $90 million
Felix 2007 $50.3 million
Cesar 1996 $50 million
Klaus 1990 $1.6 million

Are you convinced yet?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
OMG, I just google MissNadia.. RTLSNK.. your dead meat of she catches you.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
good day pottery its -10c here with a wind chill of -21c with 5 cm of snow on the ground
in f thats 14 chill -6



OHhhhhhhh I love to see that, its snowing in the center of the universe.. my day is made :)

10C

Partly cloudy

* Feels Like: -
* Wind: W 26km/h
* Sunrise: 7:52
* Sunset: 16:18

* Relative Humidity: 82%
* Pressure: 101.65 kPa
* Visibility: 24.0 km
* Ceiling: 24000 ft

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Complete Blog Refresh
Mirror Site

Afternoon all :)
Its getting closer to vacation time

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
176

Bravo!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
astro i sent you mail
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
good day pottery its -10c here with a wind chill of -21c with 5 cm of snow on the ground
in f thats 14 chill -6

Where are you? I have almost exactly the same weather!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Jeff: It sounds like the conference touched on some important issues, but I fear those who take action will not concentrate on the most important piece: poor land use choices. Florida should be ashamed of itself for not doing much more to encourage much more sensible land use policies. Perhaps the insurance industry will take care of it, by refusing to provide coverage for those who are practicing contributory neglience. All states need to do a better job of reining in over-zealous development which clearly puts the taxpayer at risk.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 262 - 212

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
73 °F
Mostly Cloudy