Friday, May 29, 2015
By now you’ll have read the latest forecasts calling for a below-average Atlantic hurricane season.
NOAA, Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project, North Carolina State University, WSI and London-based consortium Tropical Storm Risk all seem to concur in their respective outlooks that the 2015 hurricane season which officially begins June 1 will be well below-norm.
TSR, for example, predicts Atlantic hurricane activity in 2015 will be about 65 percent below the long-term average. Should this forecast verify, TSR noted that it would imply that the active phase for Atlantic hurricane activity which began in 1995 has likely ended.
Still it’s important to note that the forecasts come with the caveat that all predictions are just that, and the likelihood of issuing a precise forecast in late May is at best moderate. In other words, uncertainties remain.
These are wise words.
A recent report by Karen Clark & Co pointed to the rising vulnerability of the U.S. to hurricanes and other coastal hazards because of increasing concentrations of property values along the coast.
Of the $90 trillion in total U.S. property exposure, over $16 trillion is in the first tier of Gulf and Atlantic coastal counties, an increase from $14.5 trillion in 2012, KCC said.
KCC then superimposed 100 year U.S. hurricane events on the 2014 property values in its database. The result was that three regions—Texas, Florida and the Northeast—emerge as the most likely for mega-catastrophes.
In all of these regions, the largest losses from the 100 year hurricanes making landfall near Galveston-Houston, Miami and Western Long Island, are much larger than the 100 year PMLs (Probable Maximum Losses).
As insurance industry execs know, it only takes one hurricane to make landfall for a below-average season to become active and record losses to ensue. Here’s a visual of what the 1992 season—the year of Hurricane Andrew—looked like, courtesy of Weather Underground:
Hurricane facts and statistics are available from the I.I.I. here.