More tropical storms will turn into major hurricanes in the Northeast

More Major Hurricanes Predicted to Hit Northeast as Tropical Storms Increase in Intensity

A new risk assessment by First Street Foundation, a research nonprofit dedicated to defining climate risk, warns that the Northeast will experience more devastating tropical storms in the coming years. The study suggests that more tropical storms will turn into major hurricanes, which will not only batter coastal properties but also push farther inland.

The nonprofit’s research indicates that neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area that have never experienced hurricane force winds before could be in the crosshairs within 30 years, while properties along the Shore would bear the brunt of new destruction. According to the models developed by First Street Foundation, the proportion of major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5) has increased from 10% of all tropical cyclones in 1980 to over 40% today.

The increase in intensity is due to rising air and ocean temperatures that provide the energy that fuels storms. Scientists rate hurricanes from 1 to 5 based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with 1 carrying winds of 74 to 95 mph and 5 packing winds of 157 mph or higher. “There are ebbs and flows, but the trend line is that we’re getting almost 50% of when a tropical storm or hurricane forms, it strengthens into a major hurricane,” said Matthew Eby, founder of the nonprofit.

The research suggests that due to climate change, over 13.4 million properties will be exposed to tropical cyclones in 30 years that are not currently vulnerable. Multiple federal agencies and various real estate platforms, such as Realtor.com, use First Street Foundation’s data and models.

The nonprofit has developed an online risk assessment tool that allows users to plug in addresses and see how a specific property fares for risk of flood, heat, wildfire, and wind. The tool indicates that properties in Atlantic and Avalon show similar severe risks, but risks grow inland, too. For instance, a property randomly picked in Fishtown currently faces a 1% chance of being impacted by tropical storm winds today, which would grow to 34% in 30 years.

Officials may need to rethink public policy and building codes to address the looming threat of hurricanes. The Northeast tends to have higher property values and repair costs, making wind damage more expensive than in other regions. The wind risk assessment, conducted with Arup, a global engineering firm, lists the top cities likely to face a major hurricane this year, and all are in Florida. Still, Ocean City ranks 14th in the top 20 cities by percentage increase in average annual property losses over 30 years.

In conclusion, the findings of First Street Foundation’s research indicate that the Northeast is increasingly vulnerable to devastating hurricanes, and the threat is not limited to coastal properties. As the frequency and intensity of tropical storms continue to rise, it is essential to re-evaluate public policies and building codes to minimize the risks and damages associated with major hurricanes.