Based on damage records released by the Department of Civil Affairs of China, direct economic losses and casualties associated with tropical cyclones that made landfall over China during 1983–2006 are examined. In an average year, landfalling tropical cyclones cause 472 deaths and 28.7 billion yuans (2006 RMB) in direct economic losses, accounting for 0.38% of the annual total gross domestic product (GDP) of China. As the deadliest landfalling tropical cyclone, Super Typhoon Fred killed 1,126 people in 1994, making it the deadliest year (1,815 deaths). The costliest landfalling tropical cyclone was Super Typhoon Herb, which caused 73.3 billion yuans (2006 RMB) in direct economic losses in 1996, making it the costliest year (107.9 billion yuans). The direct economic losses and casualties of a landfalling tropical cyclone tend to increase with the northward shift in landfall track.

Over the past 24 yr the direct economic losses have had a significant upward trend, but no trend can be found if the losses are scaled with the annual total GDP of China and the annual GDP per capita, suggesting that the upward trend in direct economic losses is primarily a result of Chinese economic development. This is consistent with changes in tropical cyclone casualties, which show no significant trend over the past 24 years.

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National Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China

Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China