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Weaker tropical storm Elsa still a Florida disruption & damage threat


Tropical storm Elsa weakened from its once hurricane status over the weekend and is now heading for a Cuba landfall before it moves into the Florida Straits. But despite being weaker, tropical storm Elsa still has the potential to be disruptive in the state and cause damage.

Tropical storm Elsa now has 65 mph sustained winds with higher gusts as it heads towards Cuba.

Elsa has slowed and is currently moving around 14 mph, meaning once it emerges back over the Florida Straits it could have a chance to at least regain any strength lost by crossing Cuba’s terrain.

Elsa is expected to parallel the Florida west coast, just offshore and heading north. That means a wide area will experience tropical storm Elsa’s winds, rain, storm surge and possibly some tornadoes as well.

But whether it strengthens much or not (some forecast models do show Elsa regaining hurricane status still), the heavy rains, strong and damaging winds and storm surge it brings do have the potential to be disruptive and damaging for Florida.

The forecast models do not currently anticipate rapid intensification, although it can never be discounted as has been seen with storms in the past, but 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

Forecast models show Elsa travelling north along the coastline, then coming ashore and making landfall somewhere to the north of Tampa Bay.

It means a large area of Florida will experience strong tropical force winds, at least, plus heavy rainfall and a surge for a prolonged period as tropical storm Elsa makes its way up the coast.

Given the current forecast and absent rapid intensification, Elsa is unlikely to cause a particularly significant insurance and reinsurance market loss. But it will cause insured damage and some industry impact, it seems.

You can see the latest intensity guidance below, from Tropical Tidbits:

Hurricane Elsa modelled intensity guidance

Also below, you can see a couple of additional forecast models from Tropical Tidbits, which now show more concensus in the Florida west coast track for Elsa.

GFS model forecast hurricane Elsa

GEPS model forecast tropical storm Elsa

How long Elsa remains over the warm Florida Strait and Gulf of Mexico waters will influence its potential to gain intensity, so the longer it tracks north and offshore the greater the potential for a larger area of the state to experience strong tropical storm force winds at least.

So tropical storm Elsa, while much weakened and a much lower threat, still remains a storm to watch, but perhaps more for the insurance side of the market, as right now reinsurance impacts look set to be relatively minimal, absent reintensification.

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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