Category Archives: Hurricanes

Hurricane Katrina: Five Years On

The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina gives us all pause for thought. Katrina was the costliest hurricane, as well as one of the deadliest, in U.S. history.

Here’s a look at the storm by some of the numbers (sourced from the I.I.I. white paper: Hurricane Katrina: The Five Year Anniversary):

  Ã¯  ® August 29, 2005: the day Hurricane Katrina made its second U.S. landfall as a Category 3 storm in southeast Louisiana.

  Ã¯  ® 1,300-1,500: the estimated number of people who lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

ï  ® $41.1 billion: the amount private sector insurers paid out to policyholders for insured losses across six states.

ï  ® 1.7 million: the number of auto, home and business claims received by insurers.

ï  ® $16.1 billion: what the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) paid out in flood insurance claims from Katrina.

ï  ® $2-$3 billion: the amount private sector insurers paid out in damages to offshore energy facilities.

ï  ® 99 percent: the proportion of the 1.2 million personal property claims settled by the second anniversary of the disaster.

ï  ® Fewer than 2 percent: the share of Katrina homeowners claims in Louisiana and Mississippi that were disputed either through mediation or litigation.

Danielle: Hurricane Status in 24 Hours

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early this morning that Tropical Storm Danielle is strengthening and likely to become a hurricane within the next 24 hours.

The fourth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is currently located about 850 miles west of the Cape Verde islands with maximum sustained winds of about 60 miles per hour.

On its current track Danielle appears to be heading in a northwest direction toward Bermuda.

Here’s the latest forecast track from the NHC:














Of course much could change before Danielle even comes close to the east coast of the United States. However, it’s worth noting that at least one forecaster – WSI Corp – has warned that the Northeastern U.S. faces an increased risk of hurricane landfall this season.

Meanwhile, Bermuda is no stranger to hurricanes.

Hurricane Fabian,  which  hit Bermuda with 120 mph winds in early September 2003 as a Category 3 hurricane, was the strongest hurricane to hit the island since Hurricane Arlene in 1963.

Fabian caused four deaths on the island  and significant property damage as it battered  Bermuda with a  reported storm surge of 10ft. NHC estimates Fabian caused at least $300 million property damage in Bermuda.

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

Gulf Coast Building Codes Inadequate

Inadequate building codes in two Gulf coast states devastated by Hurricane Katrina could leave new and rebuilt properties at risk of future damage, according to a new study from the Institute  for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

  The warning comes just ahead of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the most costly insured disaster in United States history, which caused more than $41 billion in insured damage and 1.7 million claims across six states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia).

In its analysis of pre- and post-Katrina building codes, IBHS found that while there have been positive steps taken in a number of coastal communities and counties in Alabama and Mississippi, only Louisiana took steps to adopt and enforce a statewide building code after Katrina struck.

IBHS researchers wrote:

There is no question that no one wants a repeat performance of this devastating event that left at least 1,300 people dead. Yet, the steps taken to improve the quality of the building stock, whether through rebuilding or new construction, call into question the commitment of some key stakeholders to ensuring that past mistakes are not repeated.†

Check out the Disaster Safety blog for more on the IBHS analysis. Check out IBHS information on building codes here.

For more information on Hurricane Katrina and insurance issues, check out a new white paper from the I.I.I., Hurricane Katrina: The Five Year Anniversary.

Tropical Weather Outlook

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) are monitoring two low pressure systems, one located over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico less than 100 miles from the southwest coast of the Florida peninsula  and another about 820 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands.

The NHC gives  each system a 60 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours.

In its latest forecast for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather  Service has reiterated its call for a very active season.

NOAA estimates a 70 percent probability of: 14-20 named storms; 8-12 hurricanes, of which 4-6 could be major hurricanes.

NOAA said atmospheric and oceanic conditions now in place  over the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea are very conducive to hurricane formation and it expects these conditions to persist through the season’s peak months of August to October.

So far this season three storms have formed in the Atlantic, including the first June hurricane (Hurricane Alex) to form in more than a decade.

Check out the latest  NHC graphic below:



Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on hurricanes and hurricane fact files and market share by state.

Alex Strengthens

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is warning that a dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 3 to 5 feet above ground level along the immediate coast near and to the north of where the center of Alex makes landfall.

The warning came as the NHC said that Alex — the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season — is moving faster to the north-northwest and is likely to become a hurricane later today:

The surge could penetrate inland as far as several miles from the shore with depth generally decreasing as the water moves inland. Near the coast†¦the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.†

Earlier this morning, the NHC said Alex was about 380 miles south east of Brownsville, Texas and moving NNW at 12 mph, with maximum sustained winds near 70 miles per hour.

The NHC also said Alex is expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 5 to 10 inches over portions of northeastern Mexico and southern Texas during the next few days and these rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

A glance at the latest track for Alex looks a lot like 2008’s Hurricane Dolly that made landfall as a Category 1 storm in extreme southern Texas in July of that year.

Dolly caused significant wind and flood damage and resulted in federal disaster declarations in 15 Texas counties. ISO’s Property Claim Services unit put the insured losses from Dolly at $525 million in 2008 dollars.

The costliest hurricane to hit Texas in recent years was Hurricane Ike in 2008. Insured property damage caused by Ike in Texas totaled $9.8 billion, according to ISO. Check out the I.I.I. Texas hurricane fact file for more information.

Hurricane Season Opener

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season gets underway today and by all accounts it’s going to be a busy one and perhaps the most active since record-breaking 2005. Tomorrow Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project team will issue its latest forecast.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference last week to Reuters, William Gray, founder of the CSU storm research team said CSU will be upping its forecast for the season.

Back in April, CSU called for 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes, four of which were expected to be major (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes. It put the probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall at about 130 percent of the long-period average.

In its latest seasonal outlook, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said this hurricane season could be one of the most active on record and underscores the importance of having a hurricane preparedness plan in place.

NOAA said there is a 70 percent chance of 14 to 23 named storms, including eight to 14 hurricanes, of which three to seven could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5; winds of at least 111 mph).

NOAA and CSU are not alone in predicting above-average activity this season. WSI (Weather Services International Corp), London-based consortium Tropical Storm Risk and have all pointed to hurricane activity being well above norm in 2010.

WSI in particular, noted that the Northeast United States faces an increased risk of hurricane landfall this season.

Whether the forecasts call for below- above- or just average seasons and whether or not their estimates prove accurate, the fact is that for coastal residents hurricanes are a constant threat. Policyholders that take the time to prepare now will have the best chance of recovering from a hurricane or any other disaster. Check out the I.I.I. video on making your home more hurricane resistant.

Hurricane Forecast Warns of East Coast Risk

The Northeast United States faces an increased risk of hurricane landfall this season, according to the latest 2010 tropical forecast from WSI (Weather Services International) Corp. The warning came as WSI said it expects the 2010 hurricane season will be the most active since record-breaking 2005.

WSI says the coastline from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Maine is under a significantly increased threat of a hurricane this season, according to its statistical landfall forecast model. In a press release WSI Chief Meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford is quoted as saying:

Our model suggests that the threat to the Northeast coast this season is on par with that in Florida and the Gulf coast states.†

Homeowners and businessowners in the Northeast would be wise to take note. Despite never making U.S. landfall and remaining hundreds of miles out at sea, Hurricane Bill, the first Atlantic hurricane of 2009, ran parallel to the East coast from the Outer Banks of North Carolina all the way up to New England and claimed the lives of two.

It’s important to recognize that while exposure to windstorms and high property values combine to make Florida the state with the highest potential for property losses, New York State is second highest, according to risk modeling company AIR Worldwide.

A recent study by AIR Worldwide put the value of residential and commercial coastal property in New York at $2.4 trillion, after Florida with $2.5 trillion. Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts were other East Coast states where insured coastal property values exceeded 50 percent of the state’s total insured property values.

The last major hurricane to devastate the Northeast was the 1938 Long Island Express, which crossed Long Island and moved into New England, resulting in approximately 600 fatalities. Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on hurricanes.