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Mapping Social Vulnerability to Landfalling Hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin

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Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Symphony III and Foyer (Loews Vanderbilt Hotel)
Dereka Carroll, NCAR, Dallas, TX; and J. M. Done, D. Ahijevych, and G. Villarini

Studies have shown that about 63% of deaths in the U.S. due to tropical cyclones between 1970- 1999 occurred inland. The main cause of these deaths is freshwater flooding often associated with severe local storms spawned from the parent cyclone. In addition, these storms can produce numerous and widely scattered tornadoes, as evidenced by Hurricane Ivan (2004) that produced 117 tornadoes across eight states. Inland communities remain at risk, despite a steady decline of deaths in coastal communities. This research maps both the inland and coastal social vulnerability to hurricanes making landfall in the Atlantic Basin. Historical flood data and inland wind decay functions from tropical cyclones are used to identify hazard prone regions. Specific demographic factors are used on the county level to identify vulnerable communities and create a vulnerability index on a scale of 1-10. This builds on the existing Hurricane Disaster Risk Index by including the vulnerability of inland communities and their associated factors. The most vulnerable counties are located in Arkansas and the Carolinas with vulnerability values between 4.00 -4.53. Counties in the southern Florida Peninsula are found to have high vulnerability due to their likelihood of flooding as a result of tropical cyclones, with values at 4.80 and higher. The least vulnerable region is the D.C. area with vulnerability values as low as 2.67. The social vulnerability map produced may be used as a decision aid for emergency managers to assist with resource allocation and emergency response.