This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Tropical Cyclone Risk and Social Vulnerability Amongst Small and Medium-Sized Cities Along the Gulf of Mexico in the United States




Silano, Miranda

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis



Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



As climate change continues to warm the waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, tropical cyclone intensity in the region may increase which will threaten vulnerable communities. The goals of this project include estimating the physical damage risk to small-and medium-sized cities, the socially vulnerable populations therein, and the relationship between physical risk and social vulnerability for these communities. Hazus, FEMA’s risk-estimating tool, was used to determine the physical risk to each study site and showed higher risk areas were associated with severe winds. A principal component analysis was used on U.S. Census data to construct a social vulnerability index of each site. Spatial analyses determined that there were fewer areas of statistically significant correlations between risk and vulnerability than statistically significant areas, meaning vulnerability may not be as strong a determinant of risk. Studies on risk should include and explore other determinants beyond social vulnerability.