Here’s a cheerful article about storm risks in South Florida. And of course the journalists who wrote it are only trying to help. It’s not like they are trying to gin up a little pre-hurricane season hysteria to boost circulation and ad revenues! No, nothing like that. Why, they are so thoughtful that they even commissioned experts to run computer simulations of worst-case events in case readers don’t get the point, which is that THEY ARE ALL GOING TO DIE (maybe).
Journalists exaggerating remote probabilities in order to sell papers (or page views) is like dog bites man, but there is a more serious side to this story. While the odds of a major hurricane hitting Miami in any given year are probably low, the likelihood that a storm will cause havoc somewhere on the Gulf or East Coast is much higher.
The issue is not so much (perhaps not at all) global warming as it is population growth along the coasts. The last few decades have seen a great deal of building on beaches and barrier islands. While the risk of disaster is low for any given place and perhaps even any given year, it appears inevitable that some major population centers will eventually go the way of New Orleans. Everybody knows this, of course, but whereas Floridians may be overestimating the risks it seems likely that residents of more-northern states are underestimating them. Long Island, NY, to cite just one example, was devastated by a hurricane in 1938, and there is no reason why it can’t happen again. And if it does happen again the outcome might be a lot worse because Long Island’s population is much bigger now (though the costs would be mitigated by better weather forecasts, medicine and probably construction technology). The fact that it hasn’t occurred recently skews people’s perceptions but probably doesn’t change the real odds.
No part of the USA’s eastern coast, from Massachusetts on South, is immune, no matter how few storms there have been recently. If you live anywhere near the East Coast you should assume that it can happen to you.
UPDATE: This article is probably helpful.