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An analysis of coastal and inland fatalities in landfalling US hurricanes


  • Jeffrey Czajkowski


  • Kevin Simmons
  • Daniel Sutter


Improvements in hurricane forecasts allowing for more timely evacuations from storm-surge zones are credited with reducing lethality of US landfalling hurricanes. The deadly reach of a hurricane, however, is not limited to storm-surge zones. About 80% of direct US hurricane fatalities since 1970 occurred outside of landfall counties, with most of these fatalities caused by inland flooding. We construct a geographic information system database combining the location and cause of fatalities, estimated wind speeds, and rainfall amounts for the entire track of the storm for landfalling US hurricanes between 1970 and 2007. We analyze the determinants of total fatalities and deaths due to freshwater drowning and wind. Inclusion of inland fatalities results in no downward trend in lethality over the period, in contrast to prior research. Local storm conditions significantly affect lethality, as one-inch and one-knot increases in rainfall and wind increase total fatalities by 28 and 4%. Rainfall significantly increases freshwater-drowning deaths and is insignificant for wind deaths, while the opposite relation holds for wind speed. While coastal counties do not exhibit a significantly higher amount of lethality risk versus inland counties for total or wind-driven fatalities, freshwater-drowning fatalities occur most frequently in inland counties along the center of the storm path and its outer county tiers as we have defined them. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Czajkowski & Kevin Simmons & Daniel Sutter, 2011. "An analysis of coastal and inland fatalities in landfalling US hurricanes," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 59(3), pages 1513-1531, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:nathaz:v:59:y:2011:i:3:p:1513-1531
    DOI: 10.1007/s11069-011-9849-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicole Cornell Sadowski & Daniel Sutter, 2005. "Hurricane Fatalities and Hurricane Damages: Are Safer Hurricanes More Damaging?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 422-432, October.
    2. Gregory Price, 2008. "Hurricane Katrina: Was There a Political Economy of Death?," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 35(4), pages 163-180, December.
    3. William D. Nordhaus, 2006. "The Economics of Hurricanes in the United States," NBER Working Papers 12813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Matthew E. Kahn, 2005. "The Death Toll from Natural Disasters: The Role of Income, Geography, and Institutions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 271-284, May.
    5. Anbarci, Nejat & Escaleras, Monica & Register, Charles A., 2005. "Earthquake fatalities: the interaction of nature and political economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1907-1933, September.
    6. Kellenberg, Derek K. & Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq, 2008. "Does rising income increase or decrease damage risk from natural disasters?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 788-802, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lazzaroni, Sara & van Bergeijk, Peter A.G., 2014. "Natural disasters' impact, factors of resilience and development: A meta-analysis of the macroeconomic literature," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 333-346.
    2. Ashley C. Freeman & Walker S. Ashley, 2017. "Changes in the US hurricane disaster landscape: the relationship between risk and exposure," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 88(2), pages 659-682, September.
    3. Christopher Burgess & Michael Taylor & Tannecia Stephenson & Arpita Mandal & Leiska Powell, 2015. "A macro-scale flood risk model for Jamaica with impact of climate variability," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 78(1), pages 231-256, August.
    4. Sutter Daniel & Ewing Bradley T., 2016. "State of Knowledge of Economic Value of Current and Improved Hurricane Forecasts," Journal of Business Valuation and Economic Loss Analysis, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 45-64, June.
    5. Hong Wang & Min Xu & Anselem Onyejuruwa & Yanjun Wang & Shanshan Wen & Andrew E. Gao & Yubin Li, 2019. "Tropical cyclone damages in Mainland China over 2005–2016: losses analysis and implications," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 21(6), pages 3077-3092, December.

    More about this item


    Hurricanes; Fatalities; Freshwater drowning; Rainfall; Wind field; Q54;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming


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