Hurricane Dorian at Cat 5. To hit Bahamas, forecast to stay offshore Florida

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Hurricane Dorian continues towards the Bahamas with a dangerous situation unfolding, with the Florida coastline still in the storms sights depending on the timing of its turn to the north. A major Category 5 storm as of the latest update, Dorian packs “devastating” hurricane speed winds, according to the NHC and the threat to the northern Bahamas is significant.

Update, Sep 5th: Hurricane Dorian remains a strong hurricane. The U.S. coastline is not yet in the clear, as Dorian is forecast to hug it on the way north, with dangerous winds and storm surge expected and a chance of making landfall. Our latest here.

This page updated, Sun Sep 1st 17:45 UTC: Hurricane Dorian has now made landfall in Elbow Cay, Abacos, Bahamas, with sustained wind speeds still intensifying and now reaching 185 mph, with gusts of 220 mph, which is a particularly significant Category 5 status storm.

At the same time the minimum central pressure of hurricane Dorian has dropped further to 911mb, while the hurricane continues to grow into a storm spanning 90 miles of hurricane force winds and 280 miles of tropical storm force winds.

Florida remains in the cone, but the turn to the north could save the state from the worst (timing of the turn now being all-important). The latest update to the map below shows a very slight shift back west of the track, a little closer to Florida, but still offshore. That shift west is a trend to watch, as the closer it gets to the Peninsula the worse the effects could be.

Tropical storm or hurricane Dorian forecast path towards Florida

The forecast path hasn’t really moved much further north or south with the latest update from the NHC, continuing to suggest a dangerous situation for the northern Bahamas islands. Dorian is likely to slow and turn towards the north while over the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, making for extremely dangerous conditions.

The curve to the north around the Florida coastline, suggested in recent NHC forecast paths, remains offshore of the state, but only a matter of tens of miles will stand between coastal areas experiencing bad weather or hurricane conditions.

There are still model runs that show that turn later though, which could result in a scenario that sees Dorian hugging the coast, just offshore, or even onshore of the turn was delayed. The latest model runs do seem to have shifted ever so slightly back to the west, nearer to Florida.

However the chances of it missing Florida entirely and barrelling north towards the Carolina’s coast still looks the most likely.

In that scenario Dorian will weaken before reaching the Carolina’s it seems, suggesting that insurance, reinsurance and insurance-linked securities (ILS) market interests may avoid the major Florida loss scenario that had looked most likely until today (Saturday)

It’s important to note that the margin for error here, in terms of Dorian’s eye coming closer to coastal Florida, is very small and any deviation further west could bring Florida back into the firing line.

There are also still some model runs showing hurricane Dorian tracking straighter from the Bahamas towards Florida, making landfall further south, then curving north around the coast or even slightly onshore. Hence it’s too early still to suggest Florida is completely out of the woods and the next day remains critical in seeing how the competing high pressures over Bermuda and the U.S. compete to steer hurricane Dorian.

Uncertainty still reigns in the forecasts for Dorian, with a wide spread in potential modelled outcomes persisting. It’s still a very difficult job for analysts to understand the potential for losses until Dorian is much nearer to the U.S. and the turn begins.

Hurricane Dorian now presents much better having undergone a period of rapid intensification and the satellite signature now has a classic eye and look about it. The expected shift towards the eye clearing and better structure come last night as expected and rapid intensification was seen.

Some meteorologists are not discounting Dorian achieving Category 5 status as it travels towards the Bahamas, with further intensification possible, so the insurance, reinsurance, insurance-linked securities (ILS) and catastrophe bond will need to watch for potential strengthening over the weekend ahead and the forward track.

For the Bahamas, the situation looks perilous, with Dorian potentially going to stall and turn in the area and islands such as Abaco sustaining major hurricane force winds for some time as a result.

The NHC warns of 220 mph wind gusts for the Bahamas islands and some could experience hurricane force winds for around 24 hours, making for a very dangerous situation including for the capital of Freeport, home to some 28,000 residents.

Quite how the storm reacts during and after that slowdown is uncertain and wobbles in direction are highly possible, with hurricane Dorian then perhaps heading closer to the U.S. coast for a time before making its mind up as to when to turn north.

The expected slowing of Dorian is now so pronounced that the storm looks set to come closest to Florida on Tuesday now.

The turn to the north (or the closest brush with the Florida coast), now expected for Tuesday 3rd, is still forecast to be with at or near to 138 mph to 150 mph maximum winds, the NHC’s latest update says, with stronger gusts up to almost 160 mph or 170 mph.

By Wednesday 4th September, hurricane Dorian could still have 115 mph winds, the forecast says, and by the 5th Dorian could still be a hurricane at roughly 100 mph winds.

That suggests a long time for hurricane force winds to cause damage in coastal regions should Dorian turn closer to Florida. However, the forecast suggests the turn will be a way off the coast now, suggesting Florida may escape the worst.

The turn to the north remains everything, as earlier could mean the Florida coast escapes the worst impacts with the eye of the storm and strongest winds held offshore, later could bring Dorian closer in

As we said, uncertainty reigns and may continue through the rest of the weekend.

Still, if Dorian approaches Florida, models suggest insurance, reinsurance and ILS market losses in a wide range, with some consensus emerging around $15 billion to $30 billion, we understand. Although this now seems less likely due to the NHC’s forecast for an earlier turn north. But some runs, still showing the later curve and raking of the Florida coast have enormous ranges, from $10 billion to over $30 billion we hear, depending on whether Dorian can sustain hurricane force winds and affect a wide swathe of Florida coastline heading north.

Impacts for the Carolina’s and a possible landfall there are now being watched closely as these are dependent on the time of the curve to the north.

The latest forecast data is below and for more information read our other articles from today:

Hurricane Dorian declines shown in Stone Ridge ILS fund, Swiss Re shares.

Hurricane Dorian threatens significant storm surge losses.

Hurricane Dorian analogues show $11.3bn to $37.2bn industry loss range: RMS.

Cat bonds trade on hurricane Dorian, but uncertainty reigns.

Hurricane Dorian stronger, forecast worse, loss estimates say up to $25bn.

We will update you further as new information comes to light. Greater certainty in the forecasts will come as the weekend proceeds, although it’s unlikely to be absolutely clear how Dorian will act as it passes the Bahamas until we get much nearer to that time.

Below is the latest intensity model output from TropicalTidbits.com

Tropical storm or hurricane Dorian intensity forecast

Below are the latest GFS ensemble hurricane forecast model tracks for Dorian, from TropicalTidbits.com.

Tropical storm or hurricane Dorian forecast model tracks

NOAA’s latest on Dorian is below:

At 200 PM EDT (1800 UTC), the extremely distinct eye of Hurricane Dorian was located near latitude 26.5 North, longitude 77.1 West. Dorian is moving toward the west near 7 mph (11 km/h). A slower westward motion should continue for the next day or two, followed by a gradual turn toward the northwest. On this track, the core of
extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will continue to pound Great Abaco today and the move near or over Grand Bahama Island tonight and Monday. The hurricane should move closer to the Florida east coast late Monday through Tuesday night.

Maximum sustained winds are near 185 mph (295 km/h) with higher gusts. Dorian is a extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely, and Dorian is expected to remain a catastrophic hurricane during the next few days.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km).

The minimum central pressure measured by both NOAA and Air Force reconnaissance plane was 911 mb (26.90 inches).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
———————-
WIND: Catastrophic hurricane conditions are occurring in the Abacos Islands and will spread across Grand Bahama Island later today and tonight. Do not venture out into the eye, as winds will suddenly increase as the eye passes.

Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area in Florida by late Monday or early Tuesday.

Tropical storm conditions are expected within the tropical storm warning area on Monday and Tuesday.

Tropical storm conditions are possible within the tropical storm watch area by Monday night.

STORM SURGE: A life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds on the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water could reach the following heights above ground somewhere in the indicated areas if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide…

Volusia/Brevard County Line to Jupiter Inlet FL…4 to 7 ft
North of Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet FL…2 to 4 ft

The surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the how close the center of Dorian comes to the Florida east coast, and can vary greatly over short distances.

RAINFALL: Dorian is expected to produce the following rainfall totals through late this week:

Northwestern Bahamas…12 to 24 inches, isolated 30 inches.
Coastal Carolinas…5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches.
Central Bahamas and the Atlantic Coast from the Florida peninsula
through Georgia…2 to 4 inches, isolated 6 inches.

This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods.

SURF: Large swells are already affecting east-facing shores of the Bahamas, the Florida east coast, and will spread northward along the southeastern United States coast during the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

We will update you on hurricane Dorian as it proceeds and the threat it could pose to global insurance, reinsurance and ILS market interests.

You can always visit our 2019 Atlantic hurricane season page for the latest and we will update you as new information is reported to us.

For details of every catastrophe bond every issued visit the Artemis Cat Bond Deal Directory.

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