The impact of tropical circulation systems on the Chesapeake Bay region: A climatology and damage assessment

Ingram, Abigail
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University of Delaware
The record of tropical circulation systems (TCS) affecting the Chesapeake Bay Region (CBR) extends back into the 16th century, with a more detailed record beginning in 1950 that includes damage estimates for each storm. Between 1950 and 2006, the CBR accrued a total of $4,158,431,635 ($14,642,055,086 in 2011 USD equivalency) in damages resulting from TCSs. This region is ecologically sensitive but also sensitive in terms of the built environment and the damages that result from passing TCSs. A climatology of TCSs affecting the region is constructed providing information on the origin, path, intensity, and seasonality and each with a series of sub-types. The damage types defined in the TCS climatology include flooding, high winds, storm surge, and other (which includes any complicating factors such as tornadoes). Using the data collected between 1950 and 2006, a damage database is created to classify and quantify the climatological factors and damage types resulting from each storm. From this database, the costs associated with specific climatological factors and each damage type is determined. Of the climatological factors, the damage results vary greatly between the total cost of each sub-type and the cost per event for each sub-type. Using category as an example, the highest total cost is accrued by tropical storms ($2,565,954,210), whereas; the most costly per category cost is for category 1 TCSs ($202,631,100). While this study did not find a significant trend in damage amounts over time, the most costly of the damage types is flooding, causing a total of $2,889,944,884 ($11,535,539,477 in 2011 USD equivalency). The results provide a generalized representation of the effects and damages for this region, and will allow proper preparation and mitigation for tropical circulation systems. The damage database created can be applied to other areas that tropical circulation systems affect and used as a tool to inform the public on these important coastal hazards.