North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Size and Storm Surge Reconstructions From 1950-Present

Avantika Gori, Ning Lin, Benjamin Schenkel, Daniel Chavas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Tropical cyclones (TCs) are one of the greatest threats to coastal communities along the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts due to their extreme wind, rainfall and storm surge. Analyzing historical TC climatology and modeling TC hazards can provide valuable insight to planners and decision makers. However, detailed TC size information is typically only available from 1988 onward, preventing accurate wind, rainfall, and storm surge modeling for TCs occurring earlier in the historical record. To overcome temporally limited TC size data, we develop a database of size estimates that are based on reanalysis data and a physics-based model. Specifically, we utilize ERA5 reanalysis data to estimate the TC outer size, and a physics-based TC wind model to estimate the radius of maximum wind. We evaluate our TC size estimates using two high-resolution wind data sets as well as Best Track information for a wide variety of TCs. Using the estimated size information plus the TC track and intensity, we reconstruct historical storm tides from 1950 to 2020 using a basin-scale hydrodynamic model and show that our reconstructions agree well with observed peak storm tide and storm surge. Finally, we demonstrate that incorporating an expanded set of historical modeled storm tides beginning in 1950 can enhance our understanding of US coastal hazard. Our newly developed database of TC sizes and associated storm tides/surges can aid in understanding North Atlantic TC climatology and modeling TC wind, storm surge, and rainfall hazard along the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022JD037312
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 16 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


  • climatology
  • coastal hazard
  • storm surge
  • tropical cyclones


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