The impact a hurricane has on those residing on the coast can be measured in many ways, from the total population it comes into contact with, to the estimated damage in dollars, to the number of deaths that result from it. The following is a glimpse of such impacts throughout recent history.

Bearing the brunt of the storm – coastline population in the path of the 10 most intense storms from 1960 to 2008
Those counties directly adjacent to the shoreline are often those that bear the brunt of storm surge, flooding, and the strongest winds. From 1960 to 2008, the U.S. shoreline counties have been impacted by 86 hurricanes. The graph in Figure 1 presents the population in shoreline counties affected by the 10 most intense hurricanes since 1960 as well as their 2008 population. All counties on the graph with the exception of those associated with the most recent hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, show a noticeable increase in population by 2008. Given time, it is hoped that shoreline counties in the path of Katrina and Rita will do the same. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). 

Billion dollar disasters - economic costs of the top 10 most expensive hurricanes from 1980 to 2011
The extent of damage caused by hurricanes to infrastructure and property can extend further inland than just the counties along the coastline. Hurricane force winds for example can even reach noncoastal states. The following list contains the overall economic cost of the most expensive hurricanes from 1980 to 2011 (Figure 2). (Lott et al, 2012).

Loss of human life – the 10 deadliest hurricanes from 1980 to 2011
An unfortunate outcome of severe storms is the loss of human life. The following list contains the ten deadliest hurricanes from 1980 to 2011 (Figure 3). Preventing loss of life and developing evacuation and preparedness strategies is a responsibility shared by all. Visit Hurricane Preparedness for more information. (Lott et al, 2012).

Coastline population and the 10 most intense storms from 1960 - 2008              Top Ten Costliest Hurricanes             Top Ten Deadlies Hurricanes             
Figure 1: View Larger Image
          Figure 2: View Larger Image           Figure 3: View Larger Image

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2005. Credit: NOAA

For more information:

Historic Hurricane Tracks

National Hurricane Center

Closer Look

Relevant Links

National Flood Insurance Program

NOAA Coastal Climate Adaptation

NOAA Coastal Storms Program