Natural Hazards

, Volume 75, Issue 3, pp 2733–2749 | Cite as

Spatiotemporal patterns of extreme hurricanes impacting US coastal cities

  • Kelsey N. Ellis
  • Linda M. Sylvester
  • Jill C. Trepanier
Original Paper


US coastal cities are regularly subjected to destruction by tropical cyclones. The risk of tropical cyclone winds varies along the length of the coastline. We analyze landfalling North Atlantic basin tropical cyclones whose intensities are considered extreme relative to their landfall location. To be considered extreme, a tropical cyclone’s wind speed must exceed the 50-year return level for a given city. Of interest is the spatial and temporal patterns of these extreme hurricane wind events for fifteen coastal cities, which are organized into four coastal regions: Northeast Atlantic, Southeast Atlantic, Florida, and Gulf. Findings suggest that extreme hurricanes along the Florida and Atlantic coasts cluster in time, specifically decades, while there is no temporal clustering detected along the Gulf. Atlantic coast hurricane clusters are in part due to the likelihood of one intense hurricane impacting multiple coastal cities, which is unlikely to happen along the Gulf due to the alignment of the coast. It is also unlikely for an intense hurricane to impact multiple Florida cities as an extreme hurricane, suggesting a physical mechanism enables the temporal clustering seen here. The results of this work advocate for annual and decadal hurricane risk to include: (1) the likelihood of temporal clusters of extreme hurricanes along the Atlantic and Florida coasts and (2) extreme hurricanes impacting multiple cities along the Atlantic coast.


Tropical cyclones Risk Extreme value Hurricane tracks 



This research was partially supported by the Southeastern Conference ( We acknowledge James Elsner and Thomas Jagger for sharing their R code. We appreciate the helpful comments from three anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelsey N. Ellis
    • 1
  • Linda M. Sylvester
    • 1
  • Jill C. Trepanier
    • 2
  1. 1.University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Louisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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