Hurricane Hermine made landfall at around 01:30ET Florida Big Bend coast just east of St. Marks, Florida, near the Wakulla-Jefferson County line with sustained winds of 80mph and central pressure of 982mb. While that area took the brunt of the winds and storm surge, meteorologists forecast widespread impacts from Hermine into Labour Day as far north as New Jersey’s east coast.
On landfall there were reports of over 6 foot of storm surge in areas such as Cedar Key, Florida, as hurricane Hermine pushed its eye onshore. Coastal flooding does appear to have been significant, however the less populated northwest region of the Florida Bend means losses will still be manageable from the hurricane.
Hurricane Hermine is now expected to weaken as it passes through Florida, into Georgia and onwards towards the Carolinas and has already been downgraded to a tropical storm again. Torrential rainfall, some risk of tornadoes and widespread tropical storm winds are the main threats, with meteorologists warning that flooding could be an issue along Hermine’s track across the southeastern states.
That threatens to extend the impacts to insurance and perhaps reinsurance companies over a number of days and will certainly complicate the claims procedure. It could also result in greater chance of reinsurance and also ILS fund impacts, as if classified as a single event, but with losses over a number of days, the potential for reinsurance claims could rise.
But it is when Hermine, as an extra-tropical storm, emerges back off the U.S. east coast that thing’s could get interesting and meteorologists warn that the New Jersey coast needs to watch Hermine’s progress as weather models show the storm stalling for a number of days off the coast, where it could intensify back towards hurricane strength, threatening coastal flooding, high winds and rain along a much more populated coastline.
Eric Holthaus, Meteorologist and journalist, tweeted some of the weather model forecast outputs:
Ryan Maue, Meteorologist at Weather Bell, also explained some of the potential scenarios on Twitter:
The forecast for the moment does not suggest a landfall into New Jersey, rather Hermine spinning offshore for a number of days. As Ryan Maue noted, comparisons with Sandy are likely but at the moment the forecast looks very different:
It’s perhaps better to continue to think of Hermine as a storm with tropical characteristics that has the potential to reintensify into a hurricane.
Finally, with coastal flood an expected issue along the New Jersey coastline, if the above scenarios play out as the forecast models suggest.
Eric Holthaus tweeted this tidal forecast chart:
So it is really important for insurance, reinsurance and ILS interests to continue to monitor Hermine as the storm crosses Georgia, the Carolinas and near New Jersey, watching carefully for any reintensification over what are considered anomalously warm coastal Atlantic waters with the potential to fuel a large storm such as this.
It’s tempting to watch for the landfall of a hurricane and if that looks unlikely to have caused a major insured loss to lose interest/focus, but Hermine looks to be a storm that deserves the insurance, reinsurance and ILS markets attention right through the coming weekend.
Insured losses will still be manageable by an industry characterised by ample capital, but prolonged impacts mean larger insurance losses and hence greater chance of reinsurance payouts.
All eyes on the weather models to track Hermine this weekend.
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