Hurricane Dorian weaker but still dangerous, U.S. coast not in the clear

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Hurricane Dorian has remained almost stationary over the Bahamas for the last 24 hours, causing significant damage to property and loss of life. Now slightly weakened at strong Category 2, with 110 mph sustained winds, the forecast continues to show a slow passage up the U.S. east coast, just offshore but still very close to land.

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.

Last update to this article at 18:00 UTC, Sep 3rd: Hurricane Dorian has devastated the Bahamas islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. Reports coming out of the islands show a picture of utter devastation, with an estimate of around 13,000 properties said completely destroyed, lives lost and a long recovery now needed for these islands to return to any state of normality.

Late last week it looked like Florida was set to bear the brunt of hurricane Dorian, as the forecast path showed the storm making a direct landfall. Since then the outlook improved, but remained very uncertain, with Dorian forecast to turn north near the Florida coast.

The latest forecast from the NHC now shows hurricane Dorian still making that turn, but for the first time the forecast cone remains almost entirely offshore of Florida, suggesting a slight shift east in the track

Hurricane Dorian forecast path towards Florida

Hurricane Dorian remains very slow moving near the Bahamas, with plenty of room for wobbles in direction, hence it’s too early to assume Florida is out of the woods.

But the forecast has improved it seems, although there is some time before we’ll know whether the land interaction will still be sufficient to cause damage.

Hurricane Dorian is forecast to track north off the Florida coast, then turn and hug the coast past Georgia, South Carolina and come closest to a landfall in North Carolina now.

The margin for error and Dorian coming ashore on its journey remains very small though, so greater impacts cannot be ruled out at this time. Uncertainty still reigns in the precise forecast and track as hurricane Dorian skirts the coastline.

As a result, risks still exist for the insurance, reinsurance, insurance-linked securities (ILS) and catastrophe bond markets, and the ILS market cannot discount suffering some losses from Dorian, as we explained in more detail yesterday.

The impacts in the Bahamas will drive a significant insurance loss and some international reinsurance firms will assist in local insurers payments of claims.

But forecasting a loss figure for the entire insurance and reinsurance industry from Dorian remainns incredibly difficult while the uncertainty over hurricane Dorian’s ability to wobble west and hit the coast remains so high.

However, the latest forecast track once again suggests a lowering of loss expectations, as the cone moves further off Florida and so the wind and surge conditions experienced by the coast look likely to lessen.

A slight westward shift in the track could still result in tens of billions of damages, with resulting reinsurance and ILS market impacts. The chance of a landfall somewhere on the passage north remains a possibility that cannot be discounted yet.

Staying completely off the coast will mean a much smaller insurance sector loss, with reinsurance and ILS impacts significantly lower.

But still, the coming 48 hours remain key, as hurricane Dorian travels northwards and market participants will need to keep a close watch on hurricane Dorian as it progresses north.

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 full update on hurricane Dorian is below:

At 200 PM EDT (1800 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Dorian was located by NWS Doppler radar near latitude 27.5 North, longitude 78.7 West. Dorian is moving toward the northwest near 5 mph (7 km/h), and a slightly faster motion toward the northwest or north-northwest is expected later today and tonight. A turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn toward the north-northeast Thursday morning. On this track, the core of
extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will gradually move north of Grand Bahama Island through this evening. The hurricane will then move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late today through Wednesday evening, very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over the North Carolina coast late Thursday and Thursday night.

Data from reconnaissance aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds remain near 110 mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts. Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).

The latest minimum central pressure based on data from Air Force Reserve and NOAA reconnaissance aircraft is 959 mb (28.32 inches).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
———————-
WIND: Tropical storm and hurricane conditions will continue on Grand Bahama Island through tonight.

Hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the Hurricane Warning area in Florida overnight. Hurricane conditions are possible in the Hurricane Watch area as early as Wednesday and could spread northward within the watch area through Thursday.

In South Florida, tropical storm conditions are expected within the Tropical Storm Warning area through today. Along the coast of northeastern Florida and Georgia, tropical storm conditions are expected within the Tropical Storm Warning area on Wednesday.

STORM SURGE: Water levels should very slowly subside on Grand Bahamas Island and the Abaco Islands through tonight. 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…

Flagler/Volusia County Line FL to Cape Lookout NC…4 to 7 ft
Jupiter Inlet FL to the Flagler/Volusia County Line FL…3 to 5 ft

Water levels could begin to rise well in advance of the arrival of strong winds. 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 coast, and can vary greatly over short distances.

RAINFALL: Dorian is expected to produce the following rainfall totals through Friday:

Northwestern Bahamas…Additional 2 to 4 inches, isolated storm totals over 30 inches.
Coastal Carolinas…5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches.
Atlantic Coast from the Florida peninsula north of West Palm Beach through Georgia…3 to 6 inches, isolated 9 inches.
Southeast Virginia…2 to 4 inches, isolated 6 inches.

This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods.

SURF: Large swells are affecting the northwestern Bahamas, the Florida east coast, and the coast of Georgia. These swells are expected to spread northward along much of the remainder of the southeastern United States coast during the next couple of days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
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TORNADOES: A tornado or two are possible near the immediate east coast of Florida through tonight. This risk will shift to along the immediate coastal Georgia and the coastal Carolinas on Wednesday into Thursday.

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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