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Hurricanes: Does Media Coverage Rival the Storm?

About one week after Hurricane Irene reached the United States, there were 46 reported deaths directly related to the storm and total economic damage was estimated to reach at least $14 billion. According to statistics compiled by Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times, during the time the storm was in the atmosphere, Hurricane Irene received the 10th-most media coverage of some of the largest hurricanes in the last 30 years. What is the relationship between media coverage of hurricanes and the number of direct U.S. fatalities and total economic damage? Hurricanes: Does Media Coverage Rival the Storm? News Coverage Direct U.S. Fatalities Normalized Damage (News Units) (Number) (Billions of Dollars) Ivan 2004 4.4 24 17.9 Andrew 1992 66.7 Floyd 1999 7.8 Rita 2005 3.1 11.6 Georges 1998 3.0 4.4 Frances 2004 3.0 11.2 Hugo 1989 2.7 35 17.7 Gilbert 1988 |2.7 0.2 As of September 1, 2011, 46 deaths 46- were attributed to Hurricane Irene. Based on preliminary reports, total losses from Hurricane Irene could total anywhere from 14.0 26.0 between $14 billion and $26 billion. Gustav 2008 2.4 6.9 Irene 2011 Ike 2008 2.0 16 39.8 Isabel 2003 1.9 13 4.6 Wilma 2005 1.8 23.8 Katrina 2005 L16 1,500+.. 93.7 Fran 1996 1.5 21 6.7 There were more than 1,500 deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina, more than 5 times the number of deaths resulting from all 20 other storms combined. Bertha 1996 1.4 0.6 Jeanne 2004 1.4 11 8.7 Bonnie 1998 1.2 |14 Dennis 2005 2.5 1.2 Erin 1995 | 1.2 1.6 01 1 01 20 40 60 80 100 20 40 60 80 100 News Units are defined as the total number of print stories that mentioned the storm by name, divided by the average number of stories per day, and then multiplied by 10. This Fatalities are measured as the total number of deaths in the United States directly attributable to the storm. Economic losses are adjusted for inflation and other factors. list includes the 20 Atlantic Hurricanes since 1980 that received the most media coverage by this measure. Some literature suggests that the relationship Average Economic Damage U.S. Hurricanes, 1980-2011 (Billions of Dollars) between wind speeds and economic damage is exponential. That is, a hurricane with 90 miles per hour winds might cause Tropical Storm Category 1 Hurricane Category 2 Hurricane Category 3 Hurricane Category 4 Hurricane Category 5 Hurricane $0.4 as much as 4 or 5 times as much $0.6 $7.5 destruction as a hurricane with wind speeds $12.7 $18.3 $66.7 of 75 miles per hour. Storm Tracks of the 20 Hurricanes with the Most News Coverage Since 1980 Author: Jonathan Schwabish, Sources and Notes: The data used here are primarily based on those found in Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog entry "How Irene Lived Up to the Hype" in the New York Times (August 29, 2011). The 'News Unit' measure was constructed by Silver using data from Additional U.S. fatality data for 10 hurricanes (Rita, Georges, Frances, Gilbert, Wilma, Bertha, Jeanne, Bonnie, and Dennis) were compiled from Wikipedia. Updated fatality data due to Hurricane Katrina from the Wall Street Journal, September 1, 2011. Additional normalized damage estimates for 5 hurricanes (Gilbert, Bertha, Jeanne, Bonnie, Dennis, and Erin) were taken from Roger A. Pielke et al, "Normalized Hurricane Damage in the United States: 1900-2005," Natural Hazards Review, February 2008, and multiplied by 1.15, the approximate factor used by Silver in his blog post. Hurricane tracking map produced in Google Earth using data from Tropical Atlantic.

Hurricanes: Does Media Coverage Rival the Storm?

shared by JonathanSchwabish on Sep 04
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My visualization of an August 29, 2011 New York Times FiveThirtyEight blog post by Nate Silver.


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