La Niña, El Niño, and Atlantic Hurricane Damages in the United States

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Hurricanes result in considerable damage in the United States. Previous work has shown that Atlantic hurricane landfalls in the United States have a strong relationship with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation phenomena. This paper compares the historical record of La Niña and El Niño events defined by eastern Pacific sea surface temperature with a dataset of hurricane losses normalized to 1997 values. A significant relationship is found between the ENSO cycle and U.S. hurricane losses, with La Niña years exhibiting much more damage. Used appropriately, this relationship is of potential value to decision makers who are able to manage risk based on probabilistic information.

*Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.

+National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, AOML/Hurricane Research Division, Miami, Florida.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Roger A. Pielke Jr., Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. E-mail: rogerp@ucar.edu

Hurricanes result in considerable damage in the United States. Previous work has shown that Atlantic hurricane landfalls in the United States have a strong relationship with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation phenomena. This paper compares the historical record of La Niña and El Niño events defined by eastern Pacific sea surface temperature with a dataset of hurricane losses normalized to 1997 values. A significant relationship is found between the ENSO cycle and U.S. hurricane losses, with La Niña years exhibiting much more damage. Used appropriately, this relationship is of potential value to decision makers who are able to manage risk based on probabilistic information.

*Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.

+National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, AOML/Hurricane Research Division, Miami, Florida.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Roger A. Pielke Jr., Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. E-mail: rogerp@ucar.edu
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