Florida firmly in the cone for a strengthening resurgence of hurricane Eta

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The state of Florida is firmly in the cone of uncertainty for the soon to develop tropical system that emerges out of the remnants of recent hurricane Eta, as longer-range forecasts we discussed earlier this week now have an increasing chance of verifying.

Having slammed Nicaragua with a devastating blow at near Category 5 strength this week, hurricane Eta then drenched the Central American region and has recurved back towards the Caribbean.

As we explained in our article on hurricane Eta on Monday November 2nd, weather models showed Eta refusing to completely dissipate and moving back into the Caribbean by early next week with a chance of the storm becoming a U.S. threat.

That scenario now appears on the NHC’s latest forecast map and at this time Florida is firmly in the cone of uncertainty for Eta, or whatever comes next.

Raising the prospects of another weekend watching the tropics for the insurance, reinsurance and insurance-linked securities (ILS) industry.

Hurricane Eta forecast path and tracking map

Eta is now a tropical depression, a shadow of the once major hurricane that struck Nicaragua causing significant and devastating impacts.

The NHC explains the future for Eta, “On the forecast track, the center of Eta is expected to move across Honduras through Thursday afternoon, and emerge over the Gulf of Honduras by Thursday night. Eta is forecast to approach the Cayman Islands and western or central Cuba this weekend.

“Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph (55 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional weakening is expected while Eta remains over land, and Eta will likely degenerate to a remnant low or trough of low pressure on Thursday. However, re-intensification is forecast once the center of Eta moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea.”

There’s some uncertainty in the world of meteorologists and catastrophe modellers about whether Eta will be sub-tropical and or fully tropical, in terms of characteristics, after it gets back over the Caribbean.

But increasingly the forecast models suggest that Eta will intensify back to tropical storm status and some suggest Eta could again become a hurricane by the end of the weekend, depending on impacts with Cuba and steering currents.

Steering will be key, as there is a lot of uncertainty in the cone still and steering currents remain particularly challenging for forecasters to read.

Should Eta steer across Cuba in a less mountainous region, it could emerge more intact into the straits of Florida and have another chance to intensify further before it approaches the peninsula itself. Conversely, Cuba could also hinder development.

Another scenario would be that Eta continues to curve and heads back into the Gulf of Mexico after a brush with the Florida keys, giving it the chance to gain more strength before a Gulf Coast landfall.

The modelled forecast intensity graphic from TropicalTidbits.com is worth keeping an eye on:

Hurricane Eta modelled intensity forecast

It’s very uncertain at this stage how impactful Eta’s resurgence could be for the insurance and reinsurance market, let alone for ILS.

The storm’s resurgence does threaten huge rainfall totals, with the Cayman Islands and Cuba warned they could see as much as a storm total of 30 inches, while other Caribbean islands such as Jamaica could see 15 inches, Southeastern Mexico 20 inches and Central American countries could see isolated totals as high as 40 inches.

So the rain threat is clear and if that comes to Florida it could be an issue, although largely NFIP insured as you’d expect.

For the insurance, reinsurance and ILS market it really all comes down to Eta’s ability to regain hurricane status on its journey north towards Florida, as wind and storm surge are the key drivers of damage with most tropical storm systems.

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