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Bayesian analysis of U.S. hurricane climate

December 31, 2001

Predictive climate distributions of U.S. landfalling hurricanes are estimated from observational records over the period 1851–2000. The approach is Bayesian, combining the reliable records of hurricane activity during the twentieth century with the less precise accounts of activity during the nineteenth century to produce a best estimate of the posterior distribution on the annual rates. The methodology provides a predictive distribution of future activity that serves as a climatological benchmark. Results are presented for the entire coast as well as for the Gulf Coast, Florida, and the East Coast. Statistics on the observed annual counts of U.S. hurricanes, both for the entire coast and by region, are similar within each of the three consecutive 50-yr periods beginning in 1851. However, evidence indicates that the records during the nineteenth century are less precise. Bayesian theory provides a rational approach for defining hurricane climate that uses all available information and that makes no assumption about whether the 150-yr record of hurricanes has been adequately or uniformly monitored. The analysis shows that the number of major hurricanes expected to reach the U.S. coast over the next 30 yr is 18 and the number of hurricanes expected to hit Florida is 20.

Publication Year 2001
Title Bayesian analysis of U.S. hurricane climate
Authors James B. Elsner, Brian H. Bossak
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Climate
Index ID 70185165
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center