Category Archives: Hurricanes

Tropical Update

Meteorologists from Accuweather.com say indications are that the tropical Atlantic will give birth to several storm systems over the next few weeks.

Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist at Accuweather.com says:

It is possible that we will plow through at least three named systems by August 25:Â   Franklin, Gert and Harvey.

August is a time when the Cape Verde storms (tropical systems that originate from the Cape Verde Islands near Africa) begin to ramp up, while the risk of near-shore formation of storms continues.†

According to the National Hurricane Center, two areas of low pressure in the eastern Atlantic Ocean have a medium chance of developing into tropical cyclones during the next 48 hours.

Just last week NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center raised the number of expected named storms for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.

NOAA now expects 14 to 19 named storms, up from its earlier forecast of 12 to 18, while the expected number of hurricanes also increased to 7 to 10 (from 6 to 10).

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on hurricanes.

NOAA: Increase In Named Storms

Tropical storm Emily, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, may have dissipated for now, but it’s important to remember that we’re approaching the peak months for storm activity.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center yesterday issued its updated 2011 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, raising the number of expected named storms from its pre-season outlook issued in May.

NOAA now expects 14 to 19 named storms, up from its earlier forecast of 12 to 18, while the expected number of hurricanes also increased to 7 to 10 (from 6 to 10).

The confidence for an above-normal season has increased to 85 percent, from 65 percent in May.

In the words of Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center:

The atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean are primed for high hurricane activity during August through October. Storms through October will form more frequently and become more intense than we’ve seen so far this season.†

The Atlantic basin has already produced five tropical storms this season: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don and Emily. Tropical Storm Don quickly disintegrated after making landfall  in southern Texas July 29.

The last hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Ike in 2008.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on hurricanes.

Hurricane Season Just Days Away

The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins Wednesday and so far all signs point to above-average activity.

But as the Palm Beach Post’s Eye On The Storm blog recently pointed out: all hurricane seasons are active, as attested by  last year’s 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes.

That said, in  its just-released pre-season forecast, London-based consortium Tropical Storm Risk (TSR)  is sticking  to its April prediction for 14 named storms, with seven to eight hurricanes and three to four intense hurricanes (Category 3 to 5).

TSR expects the 2011 season will see activity about 25 percent above the long-term (1950-2010) norm.

Just last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted the 2011 season would see 12 to 18 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes.

The last time a major hurricane (Category 3-5) made landfall in the U.S. was in 2005, but it’s been only three years since Hurricane Ike, which ranks as the third most costly hurricane in U.S. history.

If you want to compare the views of the major forecasters, Guy Carpenter’s GCCapitalIdeas blog has a summary of the latest predictions.

Many, including Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project, will issue updated forecasts next week.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on hurricanes.

Oh, and take a minute to  check out this recap of the 2010 hurricane season, courtesy of Discovery:

Early Hurricane Forecasts

Early 2011 Atlantic hurricane season forecasts are coming in and based on the latest information it appears we can continue to expect above average activity when the season gets underway June 1.

Here’s a glance at how they stack up.

Forecasters at the Colorado State University’s (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project are predicting 16 named storms, with 9 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes (Category 3-4-5). They are also calling for above average chance that a major hurricane will make U.S. and Caribbean landfall.

London-based consortium Tropical Storm Risk is calling for 14 named storms, with seven to eight hurricanes and three to four major hurricanes. TSR forecasts Atlantic basin and U.S. landfalling tropical cyclone activity at about 25 percent above the 1950-2010 norm.

Accuweather.com Hurricane Center meteorologists are also predicting an active season for 2011, with 15 named storms, eight of which are expected to become hurricanes, with three major hurricanes. They also expect more impact on the U.S. coastline than last year.

For insurers these early forecasts give a general idea of what’s to come, but of course, it’s still very early days.

As CSU says:

“Everyone should realize that it is impossible to precisely predict this season’s hurricane activity in early April.†

Updated forecasts will be released around June 1, when hurricane season opens.

Check out I.I.I. hurricane facts and stats.

Hurricane insurance in one chart

Hurricane season doesn’t start for another couple of months, but recently, I.I.I. requested a chart showing the sum of all catastrophe losses since 1980, broken down by state. Insurance Services Office obliged with data from its Property Claims Services Unit. The results may surprise you:

iso cat loss chart_2 3 26

In all, insurers have paid out nearly $380 billion in catastrophe losses (adjusted for inflation to present day dollars). Three states – Florida, Texas and Louisiana – make up more than a third of that number – driven largely by hurricanes.

Spring Break

A change is as good as a rest, or so the saying goes. After four years blogging on a near-daily basis I’ll be taking a short break.

To my loyal readers, the good news is that while I’m out Terms + Conditions blog will continue under the able penmanship of Jim Lynch.

Jim is an actuary AND a writer, so follow what he has to say closely and know that he has the numbers to back up his words.

We have a lot to look forward to when I return to the blog in April. By then the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season will be just two months away, and by all accounts it’s shaping up to be another busy one.

For now, take a minute to  watch  a recap of  the 2010 hurricane season in this YouTube video, courtesy of Discovery. See you in a few weeks!

Peering Into the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season

With the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season closed, it’s already time to look ahead to next year’s hurricane season.

Forecasters at the Colorado State University’s (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project and London-based consortium Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) have just released their extended range forecasts for the 2011 season.

Both are forecasting that another above-average or very active season is likely.

The team at CSU is predicting 17 named storms, with 9 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes (Category 3-4-5). They are also calling for above-average chance that a major hurricane will make U.S. and Caribbean landfall.

Similarly, TSR is forecasting 15.6 named storms, 8.4 hurricanes and 4.0 intense hurricanes. TSR says there is 66 percent chance that activity in 2011 will be in the top one-third of years historically.

Now for the caveats. Both teams acknowledge that this far out their forecast skill is low.

TSR says:

It is clear that the skill of the extended range hurricane forecasts issued in early December, while positive, is low. Skill climbs slowly as the hurricane season approaches. Moderate skill levels are achieved in early June and good skill levels in early August.†

CSU also comments:

Everyone should realize that it is impossible to precisely predict next season’s hurricane activity at such an extended range†¦we advise the readers to use these forecasts with caution.†

Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog has  further analysis of the December forecasts.

Check back for our coverage of  next year’s  forecasts as hurricane season gets closer.

Check out I.I.I. hurricane facts and stats.

Hurricane Season Wrap-Up

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season which ends today was one of the busiest on record, but a ‘gentle giant’ for the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA reminds us that the extremely active season saw a total of 19 named storms – which ties 2010 with 1887 and 1995 for third place for most number of named storms in a season.

Of those, 12 became hurricanes – tying 2010 with 1969 in second place for the highest number of hurricanes in a season. Five of those reached major hurricane status of Category 3 or higher.

A key takeaway of the 2010 season is that none of the 12 hurricanes in the Atlantic struck the U.S.

Since 1900 there is no precedent of an Atlantic hurricane season with 10 or more hurricanes where none struck the U.S., according to Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog.

In fact, Dr. Masters observes that the 11 previous seasons with 10 or more hurricanes – 1870, 1878, 1886, 1893, 1916, 1933, 1950, 1969, 1995, 1998, and 2005 – each had at least two hurricane strikes on the U.S.:

To me, this year is most memorable for what didn’t happen – we did not get a full fledged hurricane rip through the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, nor did a devastating hurricane cause massive loss of life in Haiti’s vulnerable earthquake zone.

However, two hurricanes from this year are virtually certain to get their names retired – Tomas and Igor – and two other storms that did billions of damage to Mexico, Karl and Alex, are likely to have their names retired as well.

Here’s  Wunderblog’s visual of the 2010 season:

AtlHurr2010

  

  

A USA Today article  has more on this story. Check out I.I.I. hurricane facts and stats.

Late Season Hurricanes

An unprecedented late season Hurricane Tomas has triggered an insurance payout of $12.8 million from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), a multinational insurance pool developed by the World Bank.

Guy Carpenter reports that based on initial modeled losses, the CCRIF will pay out $8.5 million to Barbados, $3.2 million to St. Lucia and $1.1 million to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Tomas – the 12th hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season – hit the islands in the eastern Caribbean as a Category 1 storm on October 30, causing significant damage and power outages in Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog notes that the intensification of late season Shary and Tomas into hurricanes brings the total number of hurricanes this season to 12, tying 2010 with 1969 and 1887 for second place for the most hurricanes in a season. The record is held by 2005 with 15 hurricanes.

The formation of Tomas so far south and east this late in the season is unprecedented in the historical record; no named storm has ever been present east of the Lesser Antilles (61.5Â °W) and south of 12Â °N latitude so late in the year.”

Tomas has now been downgraded to a tropical storm, but is likely to restrengthen by Tuesday, perhaps heading towards Haiti, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). If this happens, the 2010 season  would see  a rare November hurricane.

Check out I.I.I. hurricane facts and stats.

October Hurricanes

There are just seven weeks left to the official end of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season which runs from June 1 to November 30 and so far we have seen 16 named storms develop, of which nine have become hurricanes and five of those major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).

The latest named storm is Paula, which intensified to a Category 1 hurricane early today and is heading to the Yucatan Peninsula as we write.

While this season still has a way to go, thus far the U.S. coastline has been spared a major storm, so what are the chances of a major hurricane making U.S. landfall in October?

According to Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog the odds of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. are rapidly dwindling.

Dr. Masters reports that in the past 50 years, the only Category 3 or stronger hurricanes to hit the U.S. after October 1 were Hilda (October 3, 1964), Opal (October 4, 1995), and Wilma (October 24, 2005):

Although we still need to keep a wary eye on developments in the Western Caribbean over the next few weeks, the odds are that 2010 will join 1951 as the only year to have five or more major hurricanes in the Atlantic, but no landfalling major hurricane in the U.S.”

This prognosis may well prove true. Still, history shows that October hurricanes can be costly.

I.I.I.  hurricane  facts and stats reveal that October hurricanes Wilma and Opal rank among the top 15 most costly hurricanes in the U.S.

Hurricane Wilma ranks as the fourth most costly hurricane in the U.S., producing insured losses of $10.3 billion, or $11.3 billion in 2009 dollars. Hurricane Opal ranks as the 12th most costly hurricane in the U.S., with insured losses of $2.1 billion, or $2.96 billion in 2009 dollars.

Not chump change.

Note: just two of 2010’s named storms – Bonnie and Hermine  Ã¢â‚¬“ have made U.S. landfall this season and neither caused catastrophic damage, as reported by Matthew Sturdevant at the Hartford Courant.