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This letter examines the magnitude, spatial footprint, and paths of hurricanes and extratropical cyclones (ETCs) that caused strong surge along the east coast of the US between 1979 and 2013. Lagrangian cyclone track information, for hurricanes and ETCs, is used to associate surge events with individual storms. First, hurricane influence is examined using ranked surged events per site. The fraction of hurricanes among storms associated with surge decreases from 20%–60% for the top 10 events to 10%–30% for the top 50 events, and a clear latitudinal gradient of hurricane influence emerges for larger sets of events. Secondly, surges on larger spatial domains are examined by focusing on storms that cause exceedance of the probabilistic 1-year surge return level at multiple stations. Results show that if the strongest events in terms of surge amplitude and spatial extent are considered, then hurricanes are most likely to create the hazards. However, when slightly less strong events that still impact multiple areas during the storm life cycle are considered, the relative importance of hurricanes shrinks as that of ETCs grows. Furthermore we find distinct paths for ETCs causing multisite surge at individual segments of the US east coast.


This article was originally published in Environmental Research Letters, available at doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/9/094004.

This work was licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



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