Storm Surge Risk for Top 10 U.S. Metro Areas — Slideshow

New measurements show how even a Category 1 storm can wreak havoc in densely populated areas

More than 4 million U.S. residences along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts are at risk of hurricane-driven storm-surge damage, with more than $700 billion in total property exposure—and the cost is highest along the Atlantic Coast, according to the 2012 CoreLogic Storm Surge Report.

In the Atlantic Coast region alone, there are approximately 2.2 million homes at risk, valued at more than $500 billion. Total exposure along the Gulf Coast is nearly $200 billion, with just under 1.8 million homes at risk for potential storm-surge damage.

“Hurricane Irene made it very clear last summer that hurricane risk is not confined to the southern parts of the country,” said Dr. Howard Botts, vice president and director of database development for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions. “Our 2012 report shows even a Category 1 storm could cause property damage in the billions along the northeastern Atlantic Coast and force major metropolitan areas to shut down or evacuate.” 

The study breaks down risk by Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs), defined by the Office of Management and Budget as an urban center and all the adjacent regions tied to that center. The study is based on CoreLogic’s database of parcels--individual property associated with an address--within each category of the storm surge polygon, with values as of April 2012. For the full report, click here.

Follow along as we look at the potential property damage and risk vulnerability for 10 coastal metropolitan areas.

10. Charleston, S.C.

Total properties potentially affected by all categories of hurricane: 79,556

Total structural value: $17,287,678,966

Average value: $217,302

Home to some of the nation’s most historic neighborhoods, Charleston could sustain as much as $8 billion in total property damage even from a Category 1 storm. Residential areas that could be the worst affected include Johns Island and portions of Mount Pleasant and Charleston.

9. Jacksonville, FL

Total properties potentially affected by all categories of hurricane: 127,481

Total structural value: $18,372,979,757

Average value: $144,123

In the event of a Category 5 hurricane, five different areas could sustain property damage of more than $1 billion. The Ponte Vedra Beach area alone could sustain property damages of more than $2.8 billion.

8. Cape Coral, FL

Total properties potentially affected by all categories of hurricane: 172,513

Total structural value: $19,623,515,300

Average value: $113,751

The Cape Coral/Fort Myers metro region hosts the largest population between Miami and Tampa, with more than 172,513 properties at risk. A Category 1 hurricane could cause $9.4 billion in damage and affect 70,000 properties.

7. Houston

Total properties potentially affected by all categories of hurricane: 178,000

Total structural value: $19,784,418,775

Average value: $111,148

A Category 1 storm could cause area residents total property damage of more than $1.9 billion. Residential areas most at risk include League City, Galveston, portions of Houston and La Porte.

6. Boston

Total properties potentially affected by all categories of hurricane: 71,328

Total structural value: $23,279,728,965

Average value: $326,376

More than 71,000 properties in the Boston metro area are susceptible to a Category 4 storm making landfall in the city, with these homes valued at more than $23 billion. Even a Category 1 storm could generate surge that could affect more than 10,000 properties worth more than $2.9 billion.

5. Tampa, FL

Total properties potentially affected by all categories of hurricane: 283,603

Total structural value: $28,887,406,535

Average value: $101,859

A Category 5 hurricane would most likely affect multiple ZIP codes across a large portion of Tampa, along with part of Saint Petersburg. Other affected areas could include Palm Harbor, Port Richey and Tarpon Springs.

4. New Orleans

Total properties potentially affected by all categories of hurricane: 276,930

Total structural value: $38,690,939,229

Average value: $139,714

If levees are topped or fail altogether, as they did during Hurricane Katrina, the water would be trapped and cause significant additional damage. Even with a Category 1 storm, surge alone could inundate more than $26 billion worth of property and affect more than 195,000 homes.

3. Miami

Total properties potentially affected by all categories of hurricane: 229,413

Total structural value: $42,674,254,427

Average value: $186,015

The Miami to Palm Beach area is uniquely situated to be impacted from hurricanes traveling from three different directions. In a Category 5 hurricane, portions of Miami and Jupiter, along with West Palm Beach, would be susceptible to sustaining an estimated $9.1 billion in damage.

2. Virginia Beach, VA

Total properties potentially affected by all categories of hurricane: 290,522

Total structural value: $46,020,134,284

Average value: $158,405

The Hampton Roads CBSA, which includes Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News, is the 36th largest in the country, with a total population of 1.6 million, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Even a Category 1 storm could cause area resident total property damage of close to $10 billion, impacting more than 59,000 homes.

1. New York, NY

Total properties potentially affected by all categories of hurricane: 455,255

Total structural value: $168,070,185,834

Average value: $369,178

Even if the hurricane is only a Category 1 storm, it could still cause total property damage of $48 billion and affect more than 119,000 residential properties in the metro area. Based on the analysis, residential areas that could be most affected by a storm surge include Beach Haven, West Islip, Massapequa, Riverhead, and a portion of Brooklyn.

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