I.I.I.: Hurricane Dorian and Tropical Storm Imelda Were The 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season’s Most Damaging U.S. Storms

For immediate release
New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500; media@iii.org 

NEW YORK, November 26, 2019 -- The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is about to conclude with 18 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher), according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

One tropical storm — Imelda—and two hurricanes—Barry and Dorian—made landfall in the U.S. during the six-month hurricane season, which officially ends on Nov. 30.

“This hurricane season continued to demonstrate a trend we are seeing, which is how, beyond wind, intense rainfall can inflict a tremendous amount of economic damage,” stated Sean Kevelighan, CEO, I.I.I. “In fulfilling its role as the nation’s financial first responders, the U.S.’s auto, home, and business insurers have been at the center of disaster recovery; however, there remains an underlying but significant gap -- flood. Millions of Americans are highly vulnerable but simply not as prepared as they could or should be given more than 80 percent of those needing insurance protection against floods do not have it. Some progress has been made in letting more of the private sector into the flood insurance market, but there is more that needs to be done so that more people can better manage their risks.”

“We consider this season to be slightly above-average,” said Phil Klotzbach, PhD, research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (CSU), and an I.I.I. non-resident scholar. “The most notable storm of the season was Hurricane Dorian, which reached Category 5 intensity. It was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record and devastated the northwestern Bahamas.”

After stalling over Grand Bahama Island, Hurricane Dorian brushed Florida’s East Coast and tracked northward, making landfall on Sept. 6 as a Category 1 hurricane near North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Nearly two weeks later, Tropical Storm Imelda made landfall near Freeport, Texas on Sept. 17. The tropical storm turned into a devastating rainmaker, causing fatalities, evacuations, and record-setting flooding. Imelda dumped 40-plus inches of rain in some areas of Southeast Texas and became the fifth-wettest cyclone on record in the continental U.S.

The average hurricane season sees 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The CSU team had predicted a slightly below-average hurricane season in its initial April 2019 forecast but projected a near-average season in subsequent forecasts based on changing atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic basin.

In addition to Dorian and Imelda, the other cyclone to strike the U.S. mainland this season was Hurricane Barry, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on Marsh Island, La., on July 13. The 2019 hurricane season also established two other milestones, according to Klotzbach. 

“Seven of the named storms lasted 24 hours or less, the most on record with such short longevity,” Klotzbach said. “In late September, Lorenzo became a Category 5 major hurricane in the central Atlantic, the farthest east Category 5 on record.” 


RELATED LINKS:

Video: Dr. Phil Klotzbach assesses 2019’s Atlantic hurricane season

Facts & Statistics: Flood Insurance, Hurricanes, U.S. Catastrophes

Articles:  Disaster Preparedness, Flood Insurance


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