Coastal Storm Events and Property Damages Associated with Winter Storms in the Tri-State Area

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 8:30 AM
130 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Cari Shimkus, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY; and M. Ting, S. Adamo, M. Madajewicz, Y. Kushnir, and J. Booth

Winter storms pose a number of hazards to coastal communities in the U.S. Northeast including heavy rain and/or snow, strong wind, cold temperatures, as well as coastal and fresh water flooding. In combination and as separate “events”, these hazards threaten infrastructure and can cause millions of dollars of property damage in one state from one storm alone. A study of the impacts of 7 recent winter storms from 2005-2012 on 4 coastal counties in Connecticut, 15 in New Jersey, and 13 in New York underscores the significant economic consequences the climate can have on private and public property. Data on events and associated property damage from National Climatic Data Center Storm Events Database indicates that flood and wind events were documented most frequently for these winter storms and were responsible for the highest damages overall. Although New Jersey experienced the most events and property damage, there is no discernable connection between the number of events that afflict a county or state and the level of damage they face. For example, the data shows that a low number of flood events, both coastal and freshwater, accounted for the largest losses. Furthermore, the study reveals that winter storms may affect suburban property more than urban infrastructure since suburban New Jersey suffered the most property damage while urban counties in New York sustained little to no costs in comparison. An examination of the relationship between property damage from the 7 storms and each county's coastal land area and population below 3 meters suggests that the amount of damage reported is related to the land area at lower elevations but there is no direct link between losses and the population density below 3 meters.