Tropical cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes are common words used around the world to describe the same natural phenomenon—one of the most deadly, costly, and feared weather systems on Earth. These small, intense tropical weather systems have killed more people than any other natural catastrophe (see Keim, this issue). In the United States during the 20th century, ten times as many deaths and more than three times as much damage occurred from tropical cyclones as compared with earthquakes (Gray, 2003). The continuous rapid rise in coastal populations along the hurricane-prone coast of the southeast United States since the 1950s (Figure 1) has placed more of the public at risk to coastal and inland flooding (see Bowen et al., this issue and Bowen case study, this issue). Nevertheless, advances in technology, communication, and forecasting have reduced risks to public health as is shown by the significant reduction in hurricane-related mortalities between 1900 and 2000 (Figure 1).