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Original Risk: A Society for Change Agents

Hurricane season fails to emerge; forecasts down, late season predicted


Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season 2009 is currently nowhere to be seen. After the busy storm seasons of the last few years, 2009 has yet to generate as much as a single named storm (one tropical depression so far). This must be pleasing the reinsurance industry as they hope for a year with minimal storm impact.

The formation of El Niño in the Pacific is being blamed for the lack of activity to date; El Niño is known to cause increased levels of vertical wind shear (something which hinders storm formation) and historically results in decreased Atlantic storm formation.

The University of Colorado has just released its latest 2009 storm season forecast and has now reduced the predicted number of named storms to 10 (down from 11 at the last forecast), the number of hurricanes down to 4 (from 5) and say that 2 of the storms will be major events. The chance of a major hurricane making landfall on the U.S. is predicted to be 46%, below the long term average of 52%. The latest forecast is available from their website here.

All may not stay quiet though, according to weather intelligence and forecasting firm Planalytics. They predict that conditions in the Atlantic will become more favourable as the month progresses and that by end of August or early September we should see Ana become the first named storm and there is the potential for two or three others to form in that time.

So reinsurers should certainly not sit back on their laurels expecting this quiet Atlantic to continue for too much longer (if Planalytics are right). The odds are that we will see named tropical storms within August (it would be very unusual not to) and it’s likely that as the Atlantic warms further we will see hurricanes form.

As all involved in the industry know only too well, it only takes one major storm to take a path directly for a highly populated and built up area and suddenly the reinsurance market is in turmoil as losses spiral. That’s where alternative risk techniques come into their own and the effectiveness of risk management strategies come into question.

As and when the tropics do spark into life we’ll be updating our Atlantic Tropical Storm & Hurricane Season page so be sure to visit and bookmark it. We will of course also keep you up to date on this blog.

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