Early forecasts give people in a storm's path time to
prepare. Less is known about the cost to society when forecasts are
incorrect. We examine births in the months around Hurricane Irene. Birth
weights and gestation lengths are reduced and the likelihood of preterm
births increased in populations grazed by hurricane weather. We discover
that this effect is caused by time spent in the hurricane's "Cone of Uncertainty"
where disaster anticipation is a major stressor to pregnant women. While
correct forecasts (avoiding a type II error) improve birth outcomes more
than incorrect forecasts (incurring a type I error) impair birth
outcomes, total birth impairments outweigh improvements from additonal
advisories because impacted individuals are a small portion of those who
anticipate impact. Recognizing storm damages depends on predicted storm
paths and is critical to supporting the next generation's developmental
potential. Judicious forecasting that ensures institutions mitigate is
required to not exacerbate climate damages.
Dr. Hochard received a B.A. in Economics and a B.A. in Environmental Studies, both from Gettysburg College. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Wyoming. At East Carolina University, he is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, an Assistant Research Scientist in the Coastal Studies Institute, a Research Fellow at the Center for Natural Hazards Research, and a Research Affiliate with the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute. As an applied natural resource economist, he combines geospatial analysis, mathematical modeling, and empirical analysis to examine feedback between natural and human systems.
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