Tropical storm Bertha forms as second pre-season storm of 2020

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Tropical storm Bertha has formed off the coast of South Carolina to become the second named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and relatively unusually the second to form before the official start of the season on June 1st.

Tropical storm Bertha does not pose a major threat to the Carolina’s, although rainfall totals are expected to be sufficient for some potentially dangerous flash flooding to occur.

While Bertha may not cause significant economic damages and so won’t pose any significant threat to insurance and reinsurance interests, the tropical storm serves as another reminder of the forecasts for an active hurricane season ahead.

Tropical storm Bertha formed around 30 miles east south-east of Charleston, South Carolina. The storm has maximum sustained winds of around 50 mph, with some higher gusts, and is moving towards the shore at around 9 mph.

Tropical storm Bertha forecast map, path and track

Coming on the heels of pre-season tropical storm Arthur, already the 2020 season is reflecting the forecasts for high levels of storm formation during the months ahead.

Of course, numerous tropical storms or even hurricanes do not necessarily equate to high levels of insurance, reinsurance or insurance-linked securities (ILS) market loss. But the forecasts do give cause for caution and as a result reinsurance interests are likely to stay on watch for activity in the Atlantic tropics over the coming months.

On tropical storm Bertha, NOAA is warning of the potential for tropical storm wind gusts onshore in South Carolina, with widespread rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches expected.

Localised rainfall amounts as high as 8 inches are also forecast for tropical storm Bertha, which could give the potential for some flash flooding and damage.

As a result, a tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of South Carolina from Edisto Beach to South Santee River.

NOAA warns, “Bertha is expected to produce total rain accumulation of 2 to 4 inches with isolated totals of 8 inches across eastern and central South Carolina into west central to far southeastern North Carolina and southwest Virginia. Given very saturated antecedent conditions, this rainfall may produce life threatening flash flooding, aggravate and prolong ongoing river flooding, and produce rapid out of bank rises on smaller rivers.”

Tropical storm force winds are expected to reach the South Carolina coast in the next few hours.

As with the also pre-season tropical storm Arthur, tropical storm Bertha does not pose any real threat to insurance or reinsurance market interests at this time. But the storm is an early reminder of the season to come and will ensure reinsurance and insurance-linked securities (ILS) markets remain focused on the wind risk component of their renewals at this time of year.

Should the rainfall predictions prove correct, some insured loss impact could be expected from flash flooding and inundation, but aside from that the market loss would be expected to be very low from a storm like Bertha that has formed so close to the coast and so has no chance to intensify its winds significantly before landfall.

Track the 2020 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season on our dedicated page and we’ll update you as new information emerges.

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