Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences (BCAS)

Date of Last Revision

2021-09-10 12:16:24



Honors Course

3370 497-003

Number of Credits


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Date of Expected Graduation

Spring 2020


  1. Abstract

    Coastal populations along the Atlantic Coast of the United States face a persistent threat of tropical cyclones. Tropical cyclones of any strength can cause significant damages and losses to both life and property. As coastal populations continue to rise in a changing climate, the power of knowing which communities are the most and least vulnerable to future tropical cyclone events can assist in mitigating some of the losses. This paper explores the factors that make a coastal community more or less vulnerable to tropical cyclones based on prior natural hazards research and creates a relative index that will tell what counties along the Atlantic Coast are the most and least vulnerable to tropical cyclone events. This index uses normalized and standardized social demographic data as well as historical physical factors to create a summative index that is widely applicable. In this paper, the index was calculated for 2015 census data and 1980 census data in order to provide a look at changes in vulnerability over time. The index in both time periods highlights the relative greater vulnerability of counties that exhibit greater numbers of marginalized or poorer populations and experience tropical cyclone events more frequently. Those counties that are better prepared for tropical cyclones are primarily counties with greater levels of wealth. These patterns of vulnerability to tropical cyclones are clear and in a climate that has the possibility of producing increasingly more devastating storms, knowledge of these factors and patterns provide useful insights that can be used to help better respond to future events.

Research Sponsor

Dr. Jeremy Spencer

First Reader

Dr. John Peck

Second Reader

Dr. Shanon Donnelly

Honors Faculty Advisor

Dr. John Peck


This proposal was previously submitted and accepted by the Williams Honors College.



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