On June 1, the Atlantic hurricane season officially began. According to a report released earlier this week, an estimated $1.1 trillion in property are at risk of hurricane damage. More than $658 billion of those homes are located within just 10 metropolitan areas.
Property data analytics firm CoreLogic’s “2013 Storm Surge Report” reviewed storm surge and flooding models for hurricanes to identify the metropolitan areas at greatest risk of property damage. With an estimated $205 billion at risk, the greater New York City area, which was decimated by Hurricane Sandy last October, has the most property on the line. Based on CoreLogic’s estimates, these are the 10 cities a hurricane could damage the most.
A Category 5 hurricane is unlikely to hit any major U.S. city this season. If Sandy is any indication, however, it does n0t take a Category 5 hurricane to cause massive damage. The Category 1 hurricane has an impact on 650,000 homes and caused an estimated $50 billion in damage. In most of these major metro areas, even a Category 1 hurricane would cause at least $10 billion in damage.
A number of factors contribute to the potential cost caused by a hurricane. The number of homes in some areas is a factor, as is their average value. Tampa has roughly 300,000 properties at risk, compared to Miami’s 240,000. However, the total value of property in the Miami area that is at risk is more than double that of Tampa’s. This means the total property destruction in Miami during a hurricane could potentially exceed $100 billion — the second most of any metro area in the country — compared to Tampa’s $55 billion.
Many people believe the risk is greatest in areas recently hit by hurricanes, according to CoreLogic Senior Hazard Scientist Dr. Thomas Jeffery. With consecutive years of hurricanes striking the Northeast, other high-risk areas highlighted by FEMA and USGS models, such as the Carolinas, tend to be ignored. Following Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, the Northeast is in the spotlight, while other high-risk areas are not. “Just because we haven’t had an event in a number of years in some of these places doesn’t mean that they’re without risk,” Dr. Jeffery warned.
Reviewing the nation’s largest Census Bureau Statistical Areas, or CBSAs, CoreLogic created a model to estimate the value of property at risk of flooding based on the strength of a hurricane in each region. Properties at extreme risk could be damaged by flooding caused by excess rainfall or storm surge caused by ocean water pushed inland by a storm. Properties that are at very high risk could be damaged by a Category 2 hurricane or greater. Total damage estimates are based on the worst-case scenario for a hurricane, which is a Category 5 hurricane. Areas in or north of the state of Maryland did not have property estimated at risk for a Category 5 hurricane because such a hurricane is highly unlikely in those regions. CoreLogic looked at CBSAs containing at least 2 million residents.
These are the cities where hurricanes would cause the most damage.