I analyze damage from hurricane strikes on the United States since 1955. Using machine learning methods to select the most important drivers for damage, I show that large errors in a hurricane’s predicted landfall location result in higher damage. This relationship holds across a wide range of model specifications and when controlling for ex-ante uncertainty and potential endogeneity. Using a counterfactual exercise I find that the cumulative reduction in damage from forecast improvements since 1970 is about $82 billion, which exceeds the U.S. government’s spending on the forecasts and private willingness to pay for them.
Martinez, A.B. (2020). 'Forecast Accuracy Matters for Hurricane Damages'. Econometrics, 8:2.