9B.1 Weather-Related Hazards and Population Change: A Study of Hurricanes and Tropical Storms in the U.S., 1980-2012

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 4:00 PM
613 (Washington State Convention Center )
LuAnne Thompson, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; and E. Fussell and S. Curran

Environmental determinists predict that people move away from places experiencing frequent weather hazards, yet many of these areas are growing rapidly. We present analyses here of the relationship between hurricanes and tropical storms and population change.  We use records of population change and density from the U. S. Census, and of hurricane losses from SHELDUS (Spatial Hazards Events and Losses Database) and perform a county level analysis. Population trends are calculated as cumulative population trend calculated as the compound average population growth rate for the past decade as well as a future 3-year compound growth rate.   To assess exposure to hurricanes, we calculate the cumulative number of both hurricane encounters as well as cumulative losses over the preceding decade. The data set allows for generalizable conclusions by accounting for heterogeneity in current and past hurricane exposures and past population trends.  We find that low and high-density counties with past population declines show little affect of hurricanes and are more affected by past trends in population growth.  Counties with inclining population growth rates and high density are influenced by the cumulative exposure to hurricanes, and this exposure slows future population growth.  Our analysis shows that weather hazards have heterogeneous impacts and are better understood with models that account for underlying population dynamics and distinct measures of cumulative and contemporary exposure.  This analysis provides a methodologically informed explanation for contradictory findings in prior studies.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner