What makes a storm of similar strength survivable in one country and devastate another?
This study introduces the Hurricane Vulnerability Index (HVI), a simple statistical model of physical, social, and institutional vulnerabilities that affect countries in Latin America. By comparing vulnerabilities to observed mortality rates in recent hurricane events, assessments of future hurricane mortality risk can be made for each country in the region. Analysis of the HVI shows that social factors (like literacy rate and life expectancy) may influence vulnerability more profoundly than hurricane frequency or intensity. Based on this analysis of the HVI, recommendations are then presented to manage risk in the most vulnerable countries - and to decrease hurricane mortality - primarily through human and social development. Although previous studies have also compiled vulnerability indices for natural hazards such as hurricanes, this is the first study to provide a comprehensive regional vulnerability index in Latin America and the Caribbean that focuses solely on mortality risk from hurricanes.