How Much Do Storms Really Cost?
When a big winter storm hits the metropolitan New York area, it can inflict millions of dollars in damage. But if we could preemptively gauge how much a storm would really cost, would we be able to weather it more easily?
Professor James Booth (City College of New York and The Graduate Center, CUNY) has conducted extensive research on winter storm hazards and property losses in the tri-state area. His work connects storm intensity predictions to the ensuing damage, which can help local decision makers prepare their communities for winter hazards and bounce back in the aftermath.
While past research assessed the strength of winter storms based on information about the atmosphere, a 2017 paper Booth collaborated on (published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences) ranks storms over the past several decades by cost, in search of a correlation between scientific and financial criteria. “We know there’s a relationship between the path that the center of a storm takes and the type of hazard it generates,” he says. “We also have climate models that can understand and predict the path of a storm’s center. So once we know where and what type of hazard it’s going to be, we may be able to link that to an estimated cost.”
Creating a unique metric that relies on both cost and atmosphere is the goal. “If all the data were available right now, I would immediately make one for each city in America,” Booth says.