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Researchers at Florida State University (FSU) have developed a new metric to measure seasonal Atlantic tropical cyclone activity that focuses on the size of storms in addition to the duration and intensity, a measure that may prove important when considering a hurricane’s potential for death and destruction.

Just ask the survivors of Superstorm Sandy. The 2012 hurricane registered as Category 2 on the often-referenced Saffir-Simpson scale when it became the largest hurricane on record and the deadliest and most destructive of the season. Killing 285 people in its path in seven different countries, Sandy became the second costliest in U.S. history. Likewise, Hurricane Katrina was a weaker storm than 1969’s Camille but nevertheless caused much more destruction even though the two hurricanes followed essentially the same path.

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