Hurricane Gustav struck the U.S. gulf coast just to the west of New Orleans earlier today. At the moment it’s looking like New Orleans could have escaped suffering similar devastation to three years ago when Katrina hit the city but Gustav has the potential to leave heavy losses in it’s wake. Little is known of the impact to towns on the Louisiana coast which will have taken a direct hit from Gustav, and losses could rise from flooding as Gustav moves slowly across Louisiana and into Texas. Initial loss estimates from experts at EQECAT Inc. put the loss at between $6 to $10 billion on land with the potential for a further $2 billion in offshore losses. They also estimate that gulf oil and gas production capacity could be cut back by as much as 5% for the next year. Risk Management Solutions Inc. have said that they expect the loss to be in the single figure of billions. It looks unlikely that any catastrophe bonds will be triggered by this storm at this time.
Just after Gustav made landfall the 8th named storm of the season became a hurricane. Hurricane Hanna is now threatening the Bahamas as a category 1 storm with winds of 75mph. Hanna is forecast to track through the Bahamas and up along the east coast of Florida, it’s then uncertain whether she will impact the Florida coast or track north towards the Carolinas. The waters near the Bahamas are warm enough for further intensification so it’s worth keeping an eye on Hanna’s progress.
As if that wasn’t enough, Tropical Storm Ike formed in the mid Atlantic today and has very quickly intensified to sustained winds of 50mph. Forecast to become a hurricane within a couple of days, Ike could threaten the U.S. coastline or the Caribbean in a weeks time.
As ever our tropical storm season page has all the latest warnings and tracking maps.