Tropical Cyclones

Historically tropical cyclone risk has been the core of RPI’s research support which has laid the foundation for a number of science disciplines. Today we help scientists re-focus their interests on time-scales relevant to the (re)insurance industry by supporting high-level research.

RPI improves tropical cyclone knowledge and landfall probability to help refine risk quantifications.

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    Wind Speed Exceedance Probabilities

    In the United States, intense hurricanes (category 3, 4, and 5 on the Saffir/Simpson scale) with winds greater than 50 m s-1 can cause tremendous damage. Therefore accurate estimates of wind speed exceedance probabilities (WSEP) due to intense hurricanes are of great interest to (re)insurers, emergency planners, government officials, populations in vulnerable coastal areas. 

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    Insured Loss Exceedance Probabilities

    Hurricanes cause extensive damage structurally and financially when making landfall in populated areas such as the U.S. coast line. RPI helps members reduce losses and manage risk by estimating potential losses before they happen. 

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    Tropical Cyclone Landfall Probability

    Three Category 5 hurricanes and fourteen Category 4 hurricanes have struck the U.S. coastline since 1900. These are the most damaging of all hurricanes so it is vital to have correct estimates of the probability that storms of this intensity will strike an area. The limited historical record requires that assumptions be made when developing estimates of the probabilities of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes striking the U.S. coastline. RPI supports geological proxy studies and archival research that provides benchmarks for assessing model estimates of landfall probability.

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    Wind Fields

    RPI supports research aimed at improving the ability to estimate and measure tropical cyclone winds at landfall. The development of methods that extrapolate hurricane winds measured in an aircraft to ground level and the assemblage of data on wind radii for Atlantic storms is also supported. This information is utilized to improve and enhance the tropical cyclone best-track data that is used in almost all studies of tropical cyclone behavior and for developing hurricane wind risk models. 

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    Seasonal and Real-Time Forecasts

    Real-time forecasts of landfalling storms do not directly influence reinsurance purchases with seasonal forecasts of tropical cyclone activity a potentially better fit with the reinsurance business cycle. Seasonal forecasts are of greatest interest when they focus on landfalling storms. Ideally, seasonal forecasts should be available by October or November for them to be used for January 1 renewals of reinsurance. 

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    RPI Seasonal Forecast Competition

    The seasonal forecast competition was run in the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. It enabled people to submit their individual forecasts for tropical storm, hurricane, and major hurricane landfalls for six regions in the United States. At the end of the 2013 hurricane season, RPI2.0 scored all forecast submissions and provided an overview of all forecasts (the crowd forecast). Results may be viewed here.