Damaging winds, flooding rain and destructive storm surges are just a few of the factors that make a hurricane very dangerous as the center makes landfall. After a hurricane makes landfall, the threat for a destructive storm surge ends and the impacts due to high winds slacken; however, the risk for flooding rain across inland areas remains a major risk for up to several days later.
There is some evidence to suggest that for many landfalling tropical storms and some hurricanes the damage costs due to flooding rain are greater than wind or storm surge damage. An Ipsos/Reuters poll conducted after Hurricane Irene made landfall in Brooklyn, N.Y., during August of 2011 found that 10 percent of homeowners in the Northeast experienced flood damage directly due to Irene, while just 4 percent experienced wind damage.
Flooding is the primary source of damage from hurricanes and tropical cyclones across inland communities due to the supply of tropical moisture that typically lingers around a cyclone, even after the strong winds and storm surges cease. Often times across the U.S., deep moisture from a weakening tropical system will get absorbed into a frontal boundary which helps to enhance rainfall and flooding.
After Irene made landfall in New York City, the storm continued north-northeastward and passed about 20 miles east of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which is located more than 80 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Poughkeepsie's peak wind gust from Irene was only 26 mph; however, over 7 inches of rain fell in less than two days from Irene. As a result, it was the significant flooding which ensued that caused most of the $1 billion in damage to New York state, not the strong winds.
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