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Keywords:

  • hurricanes;
  • landfall risk

Abstract

[1] Hurricane Sandy's track crossed the New Jersey coastline at an angle closer to perpendicular than any previous hurricane in the historic record, one of the factors contributing to record-setting peak-water levels in parts of New Jersey and New York. To estimate the occurrence rate of Sandy-like tracks, we use a stochastic model built on historical hurricane data from the entire North Atlantic to generate a large sample of synthetic hurricanes. From this synthetic set we calculate that under long-term average climate conditions, a hurricane of Sandy's intensity or greater (category 1+) makes NJ landfall at an angle at least as close to perpendicular as Sandy's at an average annual rate of 0.0014 yr–1 (95% confidence range 0.0007 to 0.0023); i.e., a return period of 714 years (95% confidence range 435 to 1429).