Analysis of Damage Caused by Hydrometeorological Disasters in Texas, 1960–2016
Property damages caused by hydrometeorological disasters in Texas during the period 1960–2016 totaled $54.2 billion with hurricanes, tropical storms, and hail accounting for 56%, followed by flooding and severe thunderstorms responsible for 24% of the total damages. The current study provides normalized trends to support the assertion that the increase in property damage is a combined contribution of stronger disasters as predicted by climate change models and increases in urban development in risk prone regions such as the Texas Gulf Coast. A comparison of the temporal distribution of damages normalized by population and GDP resulted in a less statistically significant increasing trend per capita. Seasonal distribution highlights spring as the costliest season (March, April and May) while the hurricane season (June through November) is well aligned with the months of highest property damage. Normalization of property damage by GDP during 2001–2016 showed Dallas as the only metropolitan statistical area (MSA) with a significant increasing trend of the 25 MSAs in Texas. Spatial analysis of property damage per capita highlighted the regions that are at greater risk during and after a major disaster given their limited economic resources compared to more urbanized regions. Variation in the causes of damage (wind or water) and types of damage that a "Hurricane" can produce was investigated using Hazus model simulation. A comparison of published damage estimates at time of occurrence with simulation outputs for Hurricanes Carla, 1961; Alicia, 1983; and Ike, 2008 based on 2010 building exposure highlighted the impact of economic growth, susceptibility of wood building types, and the predominant cause of damage. Carla and Ike simulation models captured less than 50% of their respective estimates reported by other sources suggesting a broad geographical zone of damage with flood damage making a significant contribution. Conversely, the model damage estimates for Alicia are 50% higher than total damage estimates that were reported at the time of occurrence suggesting a substantial increase in building exposure susceptible to wind damage in the modeled region from 1983–2010.