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Storm Elsa regained hurricane strength, set for Florida landfall


Tropical storm Elsa regained its hurricane status briefly overnight, as environmental conditions were conducive to some restrengthening. Now back to being a 70 mph sustained wind tropical storm, Elsa is set for a landfall over the west Florida coast.

Hurricane watches were turned to warnings for a large area of the west coast of Florida’s peninsula overnight, as tropical storm Elsa began its move north.

Tropical storm Elsa now has 70 mph maximum sustained winds, with gusts higher towards the 80 mph range and is due to turn north-east and its center come ashore in Florida Wednesday morning local time.

With near hurricane force winds and being likely to rake a large area of Florida coastline, Elsa is still a tropical storm to watch for the insurance, reinsurance and ILS market, as it is expected to bring some damaging impacts.

Hurricane Elsa forecast path, tracking map

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the center of Elsa, meaning the coastline will feel storm force winds for much of the night and into Wednesday morning local time.

The NHC warns of hurricane conditions for the warning area along Florida coast, which extends from Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River, Florida.

A storm surge warning is in effect for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River,
including Tampa Bay.

The NHC warns of the chance of fluctuations in strength and it’s likely some of the hurricane warned areas will experience hurricane strength wind gusts as Elsa nears the shore and makes landfall.

Storm surge may be a driver of potential insurance market loss, as the warnings are now for storm surge heights of up to 5 feet with tropical storm Elsa.

Tampa Bay is included in the 3 to 5 feet storm surge warning area, which extends from Englewood, FL to Aucilla River.

Rainfall will be another factor, with only 2 to 6 inches broadly warned for Florida, but tropical storm Elsa expected to have the potential for isolated storm totals to reach as much as 6 to 9 inches, which could result in flash flooding.

A tornado threat is also seen for Florida and extending into Georgia and the Carolinas, where rainfall totals could also be relatively high.

Once landfall has been made, tropical storm Elsa is expected to accelerate north-east and will impact parts of Georgia and the Carolinas on its path through Thursday.

Given the latest forecast, unless the storm undergoes more rapid intensification than expected, Elsa is unlikely to cause a particularly significant insurance and reinsurance market loss as a strong tropical storm or weak hurricane.

Losses would be expected to largely sit with insurers in the region, although the quota share reinsurance of the major Florida focused property insurers may once again take a share and some carriers do have aggregate reinsurance designed to respond to even smaller losses.

You can see the latest intensity guidance below, from Tropical Tidbits, which reflects a chance of some strengthening through the next day:

Hurricane Elsa modelled intensity guidance

Also below, you can see a couple of additional forecast models from Tropical Tidbits.

GFS model forecast hurricane Elsa

GEPS model forecast tropical storm Elsa

Insurance, reinsurance and ILS market interests can keep track of it over on our 2021 Atlantic hurricane season page and we’ll update you should a more significant threat develop.

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