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More than 6.8 Million US Homes at Risk of Hurricane Storm Surge Damage

Total Reconstruction Cost Value is More Than $1.5 Trillion

Tom Jeffery    |    Natural Hazard Risk

Current projections for the 2016 hurricane season indicate that an average or slightly greater-than-average number of storms are expected compared with the 30-year average for the Atlantic basin. But as history has demonstrated, it is not only the number of storms that should be of concern, but also the location of the storms.1

The 2016 CoreLogic Storm Surge Report reveals that a total of more than 6.8 million homes located along both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the U.S. are at risk of storm surge damage. The estimated total reconstruction cost value (RCV) of these structures is just over $1.5 trillion (Figure 1).

State at Risk

State at Risk

Storm surge risk varies along the coasts, as do changes in bathymetry (the measurement of the depth of water) and land elevation. However, there is no location along these shorelines that is entirely free from the risk of storm surge flooding. Although parts of the southeastern Atlantic coastline and Gulf Coast rank highest in potential damage, lesser surge risk also extends into and includes areas as far north as Massachusetts and Maine.

There is significant variation in the number of homes at risk and the RCV when comparing one state with another. The length of coastline, coastal elevation and density of residential development all contribute to a state’s risk of storm surge flooding. Texas and Florida, which have the longest coastal areas, consistently have more homes at risk than many other states. Florida ranks first with 2.7 million and Texas ranks third with 531,000 (Figure 2).

Storm Surge Risk NY

Storm Surge Risk NY

The official hurricane season extends from June-November each year, but in no way are storms limited to that time frame. In fact, for 2016, the first hurricane (Alex) has already developed and dissipated. The threat of a storm that may push onshore in a place that is vulnerable to storm surge is ever present, and annual preparation and planning for these types of events will always be necessary.

1 The Tropical Meteorology Project

2 The “Low” risk category in Figure 2 is based on Category 5 hurricanes which are not likely along the northeastern Atlantic Coast. States in that area have N/A designated for the Low category due to the extremely low probability of a Category 5 storm affecting that area.

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