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Normalized hurricane damage in the continental United States 1900–2017

Nature Sustainability (2018) | Download Citation


Direct economic losses result when a hurricane encounters an exposed, vulnerable society. A normalization estimates direct economic losses from a historical extreme event if that same event was to occur under contemporary societal conditions. Under the global indicator framework of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the reduction of direct economic losses as a proportion of total economic activity is identified as a key indicator of progress in the mitigation of disaster impacts. Understanding loss trends in the context of development can therefore aid in assessing sustainable development. This analysis provides a major update to the leading dataset on normalized US hurricane losses in the continental United States from 1900 to 2017. Over this period, 197 hurricanes resulted in 206 landfalls with about US$2 trillion in normalized (2018) damage, or just under US$17 billion annually. Consistent with observed trends in the frequency and intensity of hurricane landfalls along the continental United States since 1900, the updated normalized loss estimates also show no trend. A more detailed comparison of trends in hurricanes and normalized losses over various periods in the twentieth century to 2017 demonstrates a very high degree of consistency.

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Data availability

Data used to perform this study can be found in the Supplementary Information as an Excel spreadsheet. Any further data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.

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This research was conducted without external funding. We thank several peer reviewers within the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for their comments on a draft of this paper. We thank J. Gratz for his efforts in the 2008 edition of this dataset and A. Nacu-Schmidt for assistance with figures.

Author information


  1. University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC, USA

    • Jessica Weinkle
  2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Miami, FL, USA

    • Chris Landsea
  3. Climate Index Working Group Chair, Casualty Actuarial Society, Harpswell, ME, USA

    • Douglas Collins
  4. FB Alliance Insurance, Schaumburg, IL, USA

    • Rade Musulin
  5. Risk Frontiers, St Leonards, NSW, Australia

    • Ryan P. Crompton
  6. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA

    • Philip J. Klotzbach
  7. University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA

    • Roger Pielke Jr


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J.W. and R.P. designed the study. J.W. performed the normalization calculations. C.L., P.J.K., D.C. and R.P. contributed data for the analysis. J.W., C.L., D.C., R.M., R.P.C., P.J.K. and R.P. analysed the data. J.W. and R.P. wrote the paper with contributions from C.L., D.C., R.M., R.P.C., P.J.K. J.W., C.L., D.C., R.M., R.P.C., P.J.K. and R.P. participated in the response to reviews, which were prepared by R.P.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Roger Pielke Jr.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Discussion, Supplementary Tables 1–6, Supplementary Figures 1–2, Supplementary References

  2. Supplementary Dataset

    Supplementary data regarding storm damages, annual damages, inflation and wealth, and population and housing units used in the article

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