Think your home is safe from hurricane damage? Not so fast. New report predicts growing risks.

·4 min read

Increasingly destructive hurricanes will put more U.S. homes at risk for wind damage, according to a new report that allows Americans to look up projections for their specific address.

Published Monday by the First Street Foundation, the analysis uses a new wind model, topography and property information to look at the likelihood and financial consequences of hurricanes in the United States now and 30 years into the future.

First Street collaborated with Kerry Emanuel, a meteorologist and climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, using a model to predict future hurricane tracks and intensities based on previous storms.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND HURRICANES: Is climate change fueling massive hurricanes in the Atlantic?

First Street has published projections that aim to help the nation’s residents understand their risks from sea level rise, flooding and fire as climate change alters weather patterns and creates new risks across the country.

Here's what to know about the new report and tool:

What did the report find about wind risk from hurricanes in the US?

The analysis looked at more than 50,000 potential storm tracks and assessed the likely effects of sustained winds and the higher speed gusts that accompany tropical storms and hurricanes, based on local topography and property characteristics. The report found:

  • Storms shifting to the north: For example, a likely shift in hurricane landfall from South Florida cities such as Miami north to Jacksonville and St. Augustine.

  • New risks for more than 13.4 million properties in the U.S.: The report said this includes homes far inland that haven't experienced damage in the past.

  • Mid-Atlantic to see largest wind speed increase: The largest increase in maximum wind speeds is expected to impact states in the mid-Atlantic, which could bring up to a 50% increase in annual damage.

  • Also, more major hurricanes expected: That's storms with winds of 111 mph and more.

  • Key quote: “Compared to the historic location and severity of tropical cyclones, this next generation of hurricane strength will bring unavoidable financial impacts and devastation that have not yet been priced into the market," said Matthew Eby, founder and chief executive officer of First Street Foundation. Eby said it is "a new era in the understanding of the physical impacts of climate change."

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First Street tool lets you look up risk to your home and address

The report allows people to search their address to learn more about projected changes in wind risk. Here's the tool:

Gusts from Hurricane Ian slammed into the Southwest Florida coast on Sept. 28, 2022 as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds at around 155 mph and gusts up to 189 mph, heavy rain and up to a 12 - 15 foot storm surge.
Gusts from Hurricane Ian slammed into the Southwest Florida coast on Sept. 28, 2022 as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds at around 155 mph and gusts up to 189 mph, heavy rain and up to a 12 - 15 foot storm surge.

Florida leads in hurricane wind risk

One chapter of the report is devoted to risk-heavy Florida:

  • Millions more properties at risk of Category 5 storm: At least 2.5 million  properties in Florida are at risk from a Category 5 hurricane in 2023. That's expected to rise to 4.1 million by the year 2053.

  • Risks grow exponentially with stronger winds: The amount of damage that occurs when winds increase in strength is difficult to understand, said Ed Kearns, First Street's chief data officer. “Even if you've gone through a Category 2 or Category 3, you probably haven’t gone through a Category 4 or Category 5.”

  • Most of nation's hurricane wind damage projected to be in Florida: On average, the analysis concluded, the country can expect to see its annual loss of $18.5 billion this year from hurricane winds rise to just under $20 billion in 30 years. The majority of the damage is expected in Florida.

  • Typical "catastrophe" models fall short: The models that calculate risk and set the price of insurance policies likely underestimate  the risk, the report stated, and create a dangerous gap in coverage.

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Other states see increasing hurricane wind damage, too

When First Street looked at which states could see the biggest increases in damaged properties under the most severe hurricanes, one that might occur every 3,000 years, the list contained a few surprises.

Tennessee could see a more than 8,675% increase in damaged properties with a hurricane like that, and Oklahoma could see a 355.1% increase in damaged properties and New Hampshire a 300% increase.

Dig deeper

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hurricane wind risk to grow in US amid climate change: Report