CHARACTERISTICS OF TROPICAL CYCLONES MAKING LANDFALL ON THE PACIFIC COAST OF MEXICO: 1970-2010 (edited by G. B. Raga).

Luis M. Farfán, Eric J. Alfaro, Tereza Cavazos

Abstract

This study evaluates impacts from tropical cyclone (TC) landfalls on populated areas located along the Pacific Ocean coast of Mexico. The period of interest is from 1970 through 2010 and an international disaster database is used to identify the impact from the landfalling tropical cyclones. More than 30 landfall events occurred during the period; we examined the top 25 TCs based on rainfall accumulation, as well as the top 10 TC-related disasters based on the affected population. Each event resulted in affected population from 20 000 to more than 800 000. Strong winds and heavy rainfall, are associated with property damage and loss of lives. Our results indicate that excessive rainfall accumulations and daily rates, over highly populated areas, are important elements associated with the occurrence of disasters. Six of the top 10 TC-related disasters occurred during El Niño and three during neutral conditions; however, looking at the top 25 events, 10 occurred during El Niño and 10 during neutral conditions. Three case studies that occurred during El Niño events (Liza in 1976, Pauline in 1997, and Lane in 2006) are documented in more detail as they affected areas with different population densities in the southern and northwestern coasts of Mexico.

Keywords

Tropical cyclones, eastern Pacific Ocean, Mexico, coastal impact

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