Abstract

Hurricane magnitude and frequency have been linked to numerous mechanisms, including the steady rise in annual sea-surface temperatures, El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variations, and atmospheric changes. In order to better understand those factors that control hurricane magnitude and frequency, a long-term record spanning the entire Gulf of Mexico coast is needed. Here we present a detailed record from ca. 5300–900 yr B.P. of past intense hurricane impacts for cores collected from Laguna Madre, Texas, United States. Relative storm intensities were calculated for each event, and the average intense storm impact probability for south Texas was determined to be ∼0.46% (annual landfall probability). Previous field studies in Western Lake, Florida, and Lake Shelby, Alabama, reveal similar probability intense hurricane strikes of ∼0.39%. Although high-frequency oscillations between warm and dry and cool and wet climate conditions have occurred in Texas through the late Holocene, there has been no notable variation in intense storm impacts across the northwestern Gulf of Mexico coast during this time interval, implying no direct link between these changing climate conditions and annual hurricane impact probability. In addition, there have been no significant differences in the landfall probabilities of storms between the eastern and western Gulf of Mexico during the late Holocene, suggesting that storm steering mechanisms have not varied during this time.

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