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2011 hurricane season above average, though low impact, but don’t get complacent


Another Atlantic tropical storm & hurricane season comes to an end. The 2011 hurricane season has been one of the most active on record as far as storm formation in the Atlantic basin goes, but one of the lower impact seasons as far as U.S. landfalling storms and actual losses goes. That continues the trend from the last few years.

The 2011 Atlantic storm season saw 19 tropical storms form, representing the third highest total for a season since records began in 1851, and well above the average of 11 storms. Seven of those tropical storms became hurricanes, with three hurricanes making it to major status. The number of hurricanes and major hurricanes was above average, but only slightly, with the average being six and two respectively.

The 2011 Atlantic storm season saw the first hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. coastline for three years. Hurricane Irene was the most impactful storm this year, making two landfalls and causing widespread damage up the east and northeast coast of the U.S. It could have been much worse though and the latest damage estimates suggest an insured loss of $4 or $5 billion. Irene also threatened a number of catastrophe bonds, making it the first hurricane to really worry the cat bond market since Ike in 2008.

Another hurricane which made landfall in Mexico was a slight threat to the MultiCat Mexico cat bond but hurricane Rina never reached the intensity required to come close to breaching the Multicat Mexico parametric trigger.

Despite the low impact of the hurricane season (generally) there is no room for complacency as weather patterns could easily switch to the ones seen in past years where storms consistently barreled across the Atlantic towards the U.S. coastline. Hurricane risk is still the biggest exposure to the cat bond market and that is unlikely to change no matter how many of these less impactful Atlantic storm seasons we experience.

Our 2011 hurricane season page will remain online (typically despite the season being over, right now the tracking maps show an area of investigation) for you to reference and lists all the major storms, however the right hand banner will be replaced with something new. We’ll resurrect a new one in time for the 2012 season next year. You can read all our articles about the 2011 season at this link.

We’ll leave you with an excellent animation of the entire 2011 Atlantic hurricane season in four minutes from the NOAA. This video animation is actually really interesting as you can clearly see the points in the season where the weather patterns are pushing storms away from the U.S. coastline. Enjoy!

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