Tropical Cyclone Wind Exposure

Tropical cyclones frequently affect the offshore and coastal waters of the U.S. The exposure of marine waters to tropical cyclones varies by storm, year, and locality, and winds associated with these storms may impact offshore operations and infrastructure, depending on the severity of the storm. The data in represent modeled, historical exposure of U.S. offshore and coastal waters to tropical cyclone activity within the North Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Ocean basins from 1900 to 2016. What do ocean planners need to know about the Tropical Cyclone Wind Exposure data?

  1. Data represent past climatology only and do not suggest predicted future impacts or exposure.
  2. Not all available historical data were used to measure exposure. Storm track data are available as far back as the 1840s. However, the accuracy of the data before 1900 is questionable and therefore not included in the data set. The period 1900-2016 was chosen to include the most current data available, as well as historical data deemed suitable for this analysis.
  3. Return intervals are only estimations. Return intervals are mathematical averages, calculated by dividing the number of modeled wind occurrences (example, 34-knot winds) by the number of years in the study (117 years). When referencing these return-period estimates, note that there is high uncertainty of when a hurricane might strike a given locality.

Quick Caveats. updates many data sets on a regular cycle, and this data set is included in that cycle. This data set does not include track or exposure data from nor’easters. Exposure data were quantified based on BOEM outer continental shelf lease blocks and equivalent areas. Exposure was quantified using intersecting storm tracks, overlapping wind intensity areas, and mathematical return intervals. Wind climatology was based on extended best track reanalysis data. Storm tracks were provided by International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS) data for the period 1900-2016. For more information on past tropical cyclone activity, visit NOAA’s IBTrACS website or the Extended Best Track Dataset website.

Data-Source Experts
Ethan Gibney, Geographer, Storm Surge Unit, National Hurricane Center, NOAA

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