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Earth Science - Lecture 27 Notes.docx

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McMaster University
Earth Sciences
Sergei Basik

November 6, 2013 HURRICANES: SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT PREDICTION Storm Damages  Most of top ten costliest hurricanes occurred in 2004-2005  The National Hurricane Center ranks Hurricane Sandy (category 2) the second costliest US hurricane since 1900  75 billion dollars  Costs related to hurricanes have dramatically increased due to: o Rapidly growing populations along coast o More development in unsuitable locations o More expensive buildings  Number of deaths has decreased due to: o Improved ability to predict landfall locations o Coordinated ability to evacuate populations at risk o Hurricane Sandy caused about 285 deaths Storm Surges  Low pressure helps cause sea level under storm to rise  Prolonged high winds push seawater into mounds as high as 73m and 80- 160km wide  Surge height depends on: o Wind speed o Fetch length (length of water over which a wind has blown) o Water depth  For Hurricane Sandy the highest storm surge was 4.23m in New York  Storm surges pile up and rise even higher when they are: o Approaching shallower coastlines o Funneled into a bay, inlet or harbor  90% of tropical cyclone deaths result from storm-surge flooding’s  Winds in northeastern quadrant of the storm: o Directed toward shoreline o Inflict greatest damage  Southwestern-quadrant winds: o Directed offshore o Inflict least damage  Highest surge levels are in the north to northeast quadrant of the storm  Hurricanes arriving perpendicular to the coastline have higher storm surges  Storm surge waters are slowed by vegetation and dunes  Buildings and structures can be washed away by storm surges (can float away if not well anchored) Examples of Storm Surges  Katrina (2005)  8.5m on the Mississippi coast  Opal (1995)  7.3m on Fort Walton Beach, Florida  Sandy (2012)  4.23m in New York City November 6, 2013 Surge Vulnerability Facts  From 1990-2008 the population density increased: o 32% in Gulf coastal countries o 17% in Atlantic coastal countries  Much of the United States’ densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above the mean sea level  Over half of the nation’s economic productivity is located within coastal zones  A storm surge of 7m has the ability to inundate: o 67% of interstates o 57% of arterials o Almost half of rail miles o 29 airports o Virtually all ports in the Gulf Coast area Winds and Wind Damage  Wind forces on a building: o Wind pressure exerts force on the windward side of a building o Simultaneously pulling upwards on roof o Reduced pressure on the sheltered side also pulls on house  Flying debris can impact as well Deaths  Depend not only on strength of hurricane through wind velocity and surge height  Also depend on: o Buildings too close to coast o Buildings too close to sea level o Buildings that are too weakly constructed o People’s lack of awareness of wide range of hazards o Large population in the path of a storm that cannot evacuate quick enough  Much higher rates of death in less developed countries  Mountainous areas are deforested and more vulnerable to landslides  Low-lying coastal areas are easily flooded  Deadliest Atlantic hurricanes have affected Caribbean Islands Economic Impacts  Katrina (2006): o Disruptions from Hurricane Katrina shut down 95% of the Gulf of Mexico petroleum output o Families may be separated in evacuation and unable to contact each other o Many people lack flood insurance November 6, 2013 o Widespread job loss o Many New Orleans residents want to rebuild homes in flood zones o By late 2007 the city population was 63% of its original 450,000 
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