Hurricane season by the numbers

As residents of Connecticut, Hurricane Sandy still remains fresh in our recent memory. As one of the most costly hurricanes in New England and even US history, the storm reminds us how important it is to be prepared. Hurricane season in the US begins on June 1st and lasts through November 30th. Every year, the Census Bureau produces statistics to aid emergency planning, preparedness and recovery efforts.

Historical Storms


Track of Hurricane Bob (1991)

We all have our memories of hurricanes-past as well, especially those that have made landfall in New England. The Great Hurricane of 1938, the 1944 hurricane, Carol (1954), Gloria (1985), Bob (1991), Irene (2011) – we certainly won’t forget those names any time soon. All of these storms were so destructive that each one of those names has been retired from the Atlantic tropical cyclone naming convention. I remember, having grown up in coastal Rhode Island, when Bob made landfall and the eye eerily and silently passed over our house to give us a brief respite from the furious wind that sounded like a freight train.

The National Hurricane Center maintains all of the historical data about these storms – their tracks, various statistics, and GIS data as well. So now, 22 years later, I can look up Bob’s track, intensity, and dates. If you’re interested, click here for more information from the National Hurricane Center data archive.


1938: Flooding from the storm surge in Bushnell Park, Hartford CT

The storm surge of the 1938 hurricane was between 14 and 18 feet in coastal Connecticut, which caused the Connecticut River in Hartford to reach a level of 35.4 feet – 19.4 feet above flood stage. There was widespread destruction in southern New England, and upwards of 500 deaths (Source).

For pre- and post-storm aerial imagery for Hurricane Sandy, check out the USGS Coastal Change Hazards site.





Census Bureau – Facts for Features: Hurricane Season

In the Hurricane’s Path


The number of hurricanes during the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, with only two of them as major hurricanes (Category 3-strength or higher). However, one of the major hurricanes was Hurricane Sandy. It struck southeastern Cuba at Category 3 strength, then made landfall in New Jersey as a post-tropical cyclone. It was the second costliest cyclone on record (not adjusted for inflation) at $50 billion, ranking only behind Hurricane Katrina from 2005. The only other hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. in 2012 was Hurricane Isaac, which hit Louisiana.
Source: National Hurricane Center

82.2 million

Population as of July 1, 2012, of coastal states stretching from North Carolina to Texas — the areas most threatened by Atlantic hurricanes. An estimated 26.2 percent of the nation’s population live in these states.
Source: 2012 Population Estimates

34.1 million

Population in 1960 of the states stretching from North Carolina to Texas. Approximately 19 percent of the nation’s population lived in these areas at that time.
Source: 1960 Census <>


Percentage growth of the population of the states stretching from North Carolina to Texas between 1960 and 2012.
Source: 2012 Population Estimates and 1960 Census


Collective land area in square miles of the states stretching from North Carolina to Texas.
Source: 2010 Census <>

10 Year Anniversary of Hurricane Isabel


The costliest and deadliest hurricane of 2003, Hurricane Isabel made landfall in the U.S. on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Sept. 18, destroying many homes on the barrier island. Isabel later moved north through Virginia and Washington, D.C., and ended up causing about $3 billion in damage to the mid-Atlantic region.
Sources: National Hurricane Center

Category 2

The strength of Hurricane Isabel at landfall based on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with maximum sustained winds measured at 105 mph. Isabel reached a peak as a Category 5 storm on Sept. 11 south of Bermuda, but gradually weakened as it approached landfall.
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration <>


Counties that encompass the land area of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The area includes parts of Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties.
Source: Census Quickfacts <>


Population of Currituck County, Dare County and Hyde County in North Carolina in 2012.
Source: 2012 Census Population Estimates


The number of occupied housing units in Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties combined.
Source: 2007-2011 American Community Survey Estimates

$236,500; 321,200; and 93,600

Median home value of owner-occupied units in Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties, respectively.
Source: 2007-2011 American Community Survey Estimates

32.0, 19.5 and 25.1 minutes

Mean commuting time to work for residents in Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties, respectively.
Source: 2007-2011 American Community Survey Estimates

7.8%, 11.1% and 25.1%

The percent of people who live below poverty level in in Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties, respectively.
Source: 2007-2011 American Community Survey Estimates

History of Hurricane Naming Conventions


The name of the first Atlantic storm of 2013. Hurricane names rotate in a six-year cycle with the 2013 list being a repeat of the 2007 names.
Source: National Hurricane Center <>


The number of hurricane names officially retired by the World Meteorological Organization. Although hurricane names are recycled every six years, for reasons of sensitivity, hurricane names that were so deadly and costly that re-use of the name would be considered inappropriate are retired.
Source: World Meteorological Organization <>


The year the Weather Bureau officially began naming hurricanes.
Source: Atlantic Oceanography and Meteorological Laboratory <>


In one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, 28 named storms formed, forcing use of the alternate Greek alphabet scheme for the first time. When the National Hurricane Center’s list of 21 approved names runs out for the year, hurricanes are named after Greek letters. Of the 28 named storms in 2005, 15 were hurricanes, with four storms reaching Category 5 status (Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma) and three more being considered major.
Source: Atlantic Oceanography and Meteorological Laboratory <>

Preparing for Emergencies Using Census Bureau Statistics

The growth in population of coastal areas illustrates the importance of emergency planning and preparedness for areas that are more susceptible to inclement weather conditions. The U.S. Census Bureau’s official decennial census and population estimates, along with annually updated socio-economic data from the American Community Survey, provide a detailed look at the nation’s growing coastal population. Emergency planners and community leaders can better assess the needs of coastal populations using Census Bureau statistics.

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