Unique Vulnerability of the New York–New Jersey Metropolitan Area to Hurricane Destructi on | Journal of Coastal Research | Nicholas K. Coch


Nicholas K. Coch

Journal of Coastal Research (2015) 31 (1): 196–212.

https://doi.org/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-13-00183.1

ABSTRACT

Coch, N.K., 2015. Unique vulnerability of the New York–New Jersey Metropolitan Area to hurricane destruction.

Hurricanes making landfall in the New York–New Jersey Metropolitan Area (NYNJMA) are infrequent, but their effects are considerably greater than those of similar Saffir–Simpson categories in the South. Hurricanes that caused major damage hit the NYNJMA directly in 1821 and 1893, and the only major (Category 3+) U.S. hurricane to hit several major U.S. urban coastal centers was the Long Island–New England Hurricane of 1938. The destruction resulting from landfall of a northern hurricane is greater that of a similar Saffir–Simpson category storm in the South. This damage amplification is the result of both the different characteristics of northern hurricanes and the unique geographic, geologic, oceanographic, and demographic characteristics in the northeast United States. Northern hurricanes move two to three times faster, have enlarged wind fields, and have a mostly coast-normal track that carries their more devastating right side hundreds of kilometers inland. A review of historical hurricane landfalls in the NYNJMA shows how they greatly amplify the damage from hurricane winds, storm surge, and freshwater flooding. Past hurricane landfalls caused great damage when the region was far less settled and developed than today. The NYNJMA is now the most densely settled and developed hurricane-prone urban coastal region in the world, and hurricane landfall will result in damage and economic dislocation that will have national and international economic, as well as other, consequences.

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