A Climatology of Tropical Weather Systems Affecting the Mid-Atlantic Region of North America and Associated Hazards from 1851 to Present

Authors: Christina Callahan*, University of Delaware, Daniel Leathers, University of Delaware
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: tropical cyclone, climatology, mid-Atlantic, flooding
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Stones Throw 1 - Granite, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The mid-Atlantic Region of the United States has been significantly impacted by strong tropical weather
systems in the last two decades. The 60 million inhabitants of the Region represent approximately 19% of the total
U.S. population, with much of this population concentrated along large river systems and coastal areas. This study
considers all cyclones of tropical origin moving through the mid-Atlantic Region within a radius of 200 miles of
Lewes, DE, and their effects on river and tidal flooding events within the Region. During the period 1851-2018, just over 200 cyclones of tropical origin have passed within 200 miles of Lewes, DE. The majority of these storms occurred during the three-month period from August through October. There has been significant inter-decadal variability in the number
of cyclones from a maximum of 20 to as few as seven storms per decade. The majority of storms affecting the mid-
Atlantic develop in the Caribbean Sea or along the Atlantic Coast, while smaller numbers of storms develop in both
the Gulf of Mexico and the Cape Verde region of the Atlantic Ocean. The strongest storms reaching the mid-
Atlantic typically develop in the Cape Verde area off the African Coast. As the storms traverse the Region, they are often associated with severe river and coastal flooding events. At least 20% of the top twenty largest river and coastal flooding events in the mid-Atlantic are associated with cyclones of tropical origin, leading to important implications for riverine and coastal environments.

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