Tag Archives: Hurricanes

Earl Becomes Major Hurricane

Hurricane Earl – a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale (sustained winds 111-130mph) – is currently bringing heavy rain and high winds to the northern Lesser Antilles Islands in the Caribbean as it makes its way toward the west-northwest near 15 miles per hour.

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the center of Earl is expected to pass near or over the northernmost Virgin Islands this afternoon and this evening.

A hurricane warning is currently in effect for Anguilla, St. Martin and St. Barts, St. Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Puerto Rican islands of Culebra and Vieques.

Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog reports that once Earl passes the Lesser Antilles, steering currents favor a northwesterly course towards North Carolina:

“History suggests that a storm in Earl’s current location has a 25 percent chance of making landfall on the U.S. East Coast, and Earl’s chances of making a U.S. landfall are probably close to that.

None of the computer models show Earl hitting the U.S., but the storm will likely come uncomfortably close to North Carolina’s Outer Banks and to Massachusetts.†

Here’s the latest forecast track from the NHC:













Check out I.I.I. hurricane fact files and market share by state.

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.

Tropical Cyclone Watch

We’re nearly four weeks into the Atlantic hurricane season but so far the only storm activity has been in the Eastern Pacific where two hurricanes – Hurricane Celia (now Category 4) and Hurricane Darby (now Category 3) – have formed and continue to track out at sea away from land.

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 – a little earlier than the Atlantic hurricane season – and also ends November 30.

However, the Atlantic season may be about to kick into gear as the National Hurricane Center (NHC) this morning said there is a 70 percent chance that a low pressure system centered between the northeast coast of Honduras and Grand Cayman could become a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours.

An air force reconnaissance plane is scheduled to investigate the disturbance later today to determine if a tropical cyclone has formed. The NHC reports:

Shower activity has become a little more concentrated this morning†¦and surface pressures are falling. Upper-level winds are gradually becoming more conducive for development†¦and the system is likely to become a tropical depression before it reaches the Yucatan Peninsula in a couple of days.”

Now could be a good time to check out I.I.I. resources such as our hurricane fact files and market share by state and our facts and stats on hurricanes.

Meanwhile, here’s a close-up of that Atlantic low pressure system, via satellite from the NHC:


CSU Ups Hurricane Season Forecast

Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project team today upped its forecast for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, from its December predictions. The CSU team said the predicted weakening of El Nià ±o conditions combined with a very strong anomalous warming of the tropical Atlantic are the primary reasons why it is increasing its forecast. In a season it expects will see above-average activity, the CSU team now expects 15 named storms – including eight hurricanes, four of which are expected to be major (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes. The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 130 percent of the long-period average. There is a 45 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. East coast, including the Florida Peninsula, and a 44 percent chance of a Gulf Coast landfall from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville. The team also predicted an above-average (58 percent) probability for at least one major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean. The forecast for above-average activity ties in with recent predictions from AccuWeather.com chief hurricane forecaster Joe Bastardi who warned this year has the chance to be an extreme season with 16 to 18 tropical storms, including five hurricanes, two or three of which will be major landfalls for the U.S. Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on hurricanes.

Overture to Hurricane Season

Early forecasts indicate this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will be above-average, so it will be interesting to hear the latest updates to those predictions from forecasters attending next week’s National Hurricane Conference in Orlando.  Today’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune article by Kate Spinner points to a new study by NOAA researchers that may hold the key for forecasters making their long-range predictions. Apparently the research shows that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans act as opposites. In other words, a busy season in one ocean makes for a more tranquil season in the other. The study, by NOAA researchers Chunzai Wang and Sang-Ki Lee, is reported to be the first to demonstrate the dynamic clearly over five decades. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune states: “Last year’s quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic coincided with an active Pacific season. The reverse happened in 2005. This year, the Pacific is expected to be mild again, and the Atlantic, if the correlation holds, will be abuzz with hurricanes.† The NOAA study is published in Eos, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. Just last week, Joe Bastardi, chief long-range meteorologist and hurricane forecaster at AccuWeather.com warned this year has the chance to be an extreme season with 16 to 18 tropical storms in total and above-normal threats on the U.S. coastline. Bastardi called for five hurricanes, two or three of which will be major landfalls for the U.S. Look out for an updated forecast of 2010 hurricane activity April 7 from Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project. Check out I.I.I. hurricane facts and stats.