Overblown? Analyzing Wind Speed in the Hurricane Warning Response System

How to Cite

Abellon, K. ., Murphy, A., & Anderson, A. (2022). Overblown? Analyzing Wind Speed in the Hurricane Warning Response System. McGill Science Undergraduate Research Journal, 17(1), 12-17. https://doi.org/10.26443/msurj.v17i1.171


The role of wind speed in determining the impacts of hurricanes is examined via statistical analysis of Cate- gory 2-5 hurricanes that made landfall in the U.S. Atlantic basin coastline, including Puerto Rico’s coast, from 1970-2020. The results indicate a positive yet statistically insignificant correlation between wind speed and hurricane deaths, cost of damages and federally obligated recovery aid. Other factors, such as storm surge, rainfall, and inland inundation, may be more strongly correlated with these impacts. The results are contextualized by a wealth of literature pointing to the role of social, political, and economic factors in determining the destructiveness of hurricanes. Finally, alternative indices to the popular Saffir-Simpson hurricane hazard scale – which relies on wind speed – are examined. As climate change advances and hurricanes become in- creasingly frequent and severe, more comprehensive hazard-rating scales may provide the basis for a more effective warning-response system, ultimately bolstering the resilience of coastal areas.