“Worsening Winds” Report: Northeast at Risk

The First Street Foundation recently unveiled their new wind model, a cutting-edge tool that provides detailed information on the likelihood and financial impacts of wind for all properties in the US. According to the 7th National Risk Assessment: Worsening Winds report, the Northeast region is expected to experience the greatest rise in tropical storm wind conditions or more severe weather events in the years ahead. This forecast is due to the projected movement of hurricanes further up the Atlantic coast, which is expected to result in a higher frequency of powerful storms impacting the region.  Throughout the Northeast, the average annual loss is expected to increase by $97 million over the next 30 years, a startling 87.3% increase from approximately $111 million in 2023 to $208 million in 2053. 

The 7th National Risk Assessment: Worsening Winds

The new First Street model predicts wind patterns today, and 30 years into the future, accounting for increasing climate change. This breakthrough model has far-reaching implications for homeowners, businesses, and policymakers alike, and can help to identify and mitigate the risks associated with increasingly frequent and severe wind events.

Across the U.S., the number of properties exposed to tropical cyclones is projected to increase significantly in the next 30 years. The model predicts that over 13.4 million properties that are not currently exposed to tropical cyclones will be at risk in the coming years. This alarming finding is a result of two key factors: an increasing proportion of hurricanes that are expected to reach major hurricane status (Category 3-5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale), and a greater likelihood that storms will track further northward along the US East Coast. These trends are consistent with the predictions of climate models, which suggest that as global temperatures continue to rise, so too will the severity and frequency of tropical storms. 

The First Street Foundation’s new wind model not only predicts the likelihood of tropical cyclones but also quantifies the expected damage and downtime for each specific building structure. The model takes into account a variety of factors such as the number of stories, residential or commercial category, spatial orientation of the building, roof type, building material, and more to provide estimates of the potential damage. The Foundation’s property-level damage estimates are staggering, revealing that the country can expect an annual loss of $18.5 billion this year due to hurricane winds, which is projected to increase to just under $20 billion in 30 years. These estimates serve as a powerful reminder of the economic costs associated with wind-related disasters, and the urgent need to invest in measures that can reduce the risks and mitigate the impacts of these events. 

The implications of this finding are significant, as it highlights the urgent need for individuals, businesses, and policymakers to take action to protect vulnerable communities and infrastructure from the growing threat of wind-related disasters. By investing in risk reduction strategies, such as improving infrastructure, strengthening building codes, and promoting sustainable land use practices, it is possible to build more resilient communities that are better equipped to withstand the growing threat of wind-related disasters in the years to come.

Author: Brandon Haley