Northeast US hurricane risk may be higher in future climate

02 March 2017

  • Research on previous and future climate regimes across the northeastern U.S. and maritime Canada point to higher hurricane risk than experienced in recent decades.
  • Recent landfalling hurricane tracks not only in the northern U.S., but also Japan has deviated from the historical norm, amplifying damage potential.

Speaking at the recent Reinsurance Association of America’s (RAA) Cat Risk Management 2017 conference, Josh Darr, SVP & Lead Meteorologist from JLT Re North America, Inc. (JLT Re) discussed the possibility of tail risk increasing on high latitude late season hurricanes.

During the presentation, Josh Darr explained that “Recent hurricane seasons have seen an increase in hurricanes making landfall at high latitudes relative to the record inactive period of intense hurricane landfalls across the Gulf Coast and Florida regions. Recent landfalling storms in both the northern U.S. and Japan have had a unique perpendicular landfall relative to the north/south coastlines. Hurricanes and typhoons tracking towards the west at landfall at high latitudes represent a configuration that has been rare in the historical record. The confluence of these rare tracks hitting major population zones represents a potential increase in risk relative to the historical record”.

Areas that JLT Re examined to identify if high latitude hurricane risk is changing are numerous:

  • Sand core samples tracing northeast U.S. hurricane activity back 2000 years
  • The potential impact of global warming on dormancy of trees relative to late season landfalls
  • Drought or flood, pre landfall, that impacts the ability of trees to withstand strong winds without toppling
  • Changes in jet stream patterns, influenced by Arctic warming, allowing hurricanes to curve directly towards land instead of a glancing blow
  • Sea level rise impacts on major northeast U.S. cities with a potential storm surge event
  • Impact of recent research on Atlantic Ocean temperatures relative to landfall frequencies.

Josh Darr concluded, “While some of the variables above increase or decrease the hurricane risk, overall it appears in aggregate that hurricane risk in future decades for the Northeast is potentially higher than the historical average of the late 20th century and early 21st century”.

JLT Re has launched its Natural Catastrophe Year in Review 2016 this week - the full report is available here.



Isabella Gaster | T: (+44) 20 7558 3387 | M: (+44) 7920 586 032 | E:


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