BMS Tropical Update Joaquin 9/30/2015 12PM CDT

Hurricane Joaquin rapidly intensified overnight and is now a Category 1 hurricane tracking west toward the Bahamas. As I wrote about yesterday, the forecast uncertainty for Joaquin is extremely high. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has clearly communicated this uncertainty in their forecast discussions which I have quote below.

“Confidence in the details of the track forecast late in the period remains very low, since the environmental steering currents are complex and not being handled in a consistent manner by the models. Given that a wide range of outcomes is possible, it is too soon to say what impacts, if any, Joaquin will have on the United States.”

Further, the Director of the NHC tweeted:

Although uncertainties exist, I think it is safe to warn about what the known impacts will be “IF” Joaquin approaches or makes landfall along the East Coast.

We do know that hurricane Joaquin is now located 215 miles east-northeast of the Central Bahamas and will continue to strengthen into what will likely be a major hurricane off the East Coast by Saturday. In fact, water temperatures near Joaquin are currently at all-time record warm levels and could, if all other factors align, easily support a Category 5 hurricane. In fact, a high-end Category 3 or 4 is now likely for Joaquin, which would pack sustained winds of more than 120 mph over the Bahamas. However, it should be noted that regardless of the hurricane’s strength over the Bahamas, as hurricanes move northward out of the deep tropics, climatology suggests they tend to weaken and speeds up. How much Joaquin could weaken is still unknown. Therefore it is still premature to estimate a landfall location and insured impacts along the East Coast.

Regardless of storm strength, as an East Coast hurricane, Joaquin will create large waves, and the stronger the hurricane, the larger the waves will be. In this case, a constant on shore flow will cause extensive beach erosion along the coastline and impact coast properties.

WW3_Waves_Joaquin9302015

GFW wavewatch model with 45-50 foot waves off NC coast, 20 plus all the way to Long island by early Sunday AM

Depending on the final track and if Joaquin makes landfall, a large storm surge will likely accompany Joaquin. In fact, the devastating current possibility that Joaquin could track up the Chesapeake or Delaware Bays can’t be ruled out. This type of storm track has been modeled to produce devastating storm surge for these coastal bay waters, and the already high water levels from rainfall and a near super moon will not help the situation.

In addition to the torrential rainfall currently impacting much of the East Coast, some models are forecasting more rain depending on Joaquin’s forecast track. Some forecast models produce an additional 8 – 10” of rain on top of saturated ground. And with already high river levels, some major river flooding can be expected.

QPF

A foot of rain—or more—is possible across much of the East Coast this week as Hurricane Joaquin approaches.

In summary, the uncertainty in the current track forecast cannot be understated, and it is not even represented well by the official track forecast by the NHC. Unfortunately in this situation, the spread in the forecast models is far greater in size than the cone of uncertainty in the official forecast by the NHC. As the image below shows there are still several models including the very good and reliable ECMWF (not shown) that take Joaquin out to sea.  I expect by Friday we will have a much clearer picture of where Joaquin will track this weekend, and with that, insured impacts can start to be calculated.

GFSENSSpread

GFS Ensemble model shows 2 distinct solution clusters for storm tracks Door #1 up the east coast. Door #2 out to sea.


 

Time to wake up? BMS Tropical Update -TS Joaquin – 09/29/2015 3:00 PM CDT

As you might have noticed TS Joaquin has been named by the NHC and is currently 425 miles East Northeast of the Bahamas.

I have been saying since the start of the season the main threat this year is along the East Coast of the U.S which follows the pattern over the last several years. Joaquin is forecasted to move closer to the East Coast this week and with it is the threat of a tropical system impacting the East Coast of the U.S. Though the forecast remains very uncertain, heavy rain, coastal flooding and strong winds are possible for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast starting Friday with upwards of 12” of rain are forecasted to fall by the end of this weekend regardless of the strength of Joaquin.

Though it’s too soon to tell exactly where the storm will head and how strong it will get by the weekend, the possibility remains that Tropical Storm Joaquin could become a weak to major hurricane just off the Eastern Seaboard on Saturday morning. Much like we saw with TS Erika earlier this year the forecast models are handling this storm poorly and there is extremely low confidence in the forecast at this given time.

Above is view of the very wide range in the model forecasts for the storm’s future track. This makes identifying a “most likely” track all the more challenging. Note the tremendous divergence of possibilities, including several models that hook this storm toward the left (west), with potential landfall anywhere from the Outer Banks to Boston. The NHC OFCL track is in the middle of the guidance.

 

The intensity forecast remains equally problematic. The guidance spread is shown above, which shows the official NHC OFCL intensity remains conservative at 70 mph as the storm comes within striking range of the Mid-Atlantic coastline.

But a sizable number of models do intensify this storm into a Category 1 or 2 hurricane, which the National Hurricane Center notes in their discussion. The rationale for strengthening is the potential for wind shear over the storm to decrease. Wind shear is detrimental to tropical cyclones, and if it weakens it could allow the storm to strengthen to its full potential over the warm waters which are currently at the warmest levels ever measured since weather records began in 1880.

Regardless of the forecast model of the day. The situation is ugly with a similar set up that brought Hurricane Sandy up the East Coast of the U.S in the fall of 2012 which leads me to think the probability of Joaquin impacting the East Coast of the U.S. is higher than the storm tracking out to sea. I also feel the NHC is too conservative on intensity and the NHC should adjust this upward over the next few days.

Even if Joaquin doesn’t make landfall as a hurricane or tropical storm, this meteorological setup is nearly ideal for a high-impact flood event later this week across the core of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Comparing the current pattern with similar historical weather patterns, one of the leading analogs right now is Hurricane Irene in 2011, which produced catastrophic flooding in upstate New York and New England. Other matches include the merging of Tropical Storm Tammy and a subtropical depression in October 2005 and the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole in 2010. Therefore the rainfall of the 10” – 12” in parts of East Coast states will lead to some of the worst flooding not seen in several years.

Again, there is significant uncertainty in the forecast for this storm, and we will probably continue to see the models toss and turn over the next 24 to 48 hours. Big swings in track and intensity are possible. Social media is abuzz with discussion of a big East Coast hit, but any serious discussion should be tempered at this point concerning specific model solutions. This is something to watch and monitor closely for the rest of this week as this complex forecast situation resolves.

BMS Group appoints Lawson and Chamberlain as Directors

BMS Group Ltd. (“BMS”), the independent specialist insurance and reinsurance broker, today announces the appointments of Mark Lawson and Daniel Chamberlain as Directors of North American Property, reporting to Ian Gormley, Managing Director of BMS Risk Solutions.

Lawson and Chamberlain both have over 20 years’ experience and join from JLT Specialty Limited (JLT) where, as Senior Partners, they led the North American Property business. Prior to JLT, Lawson was a Partner at Newman Martin and Buchan, where he set up and led the Property and Casualty team. Chamberlain also worked at Newman Martin and Buchan specialising in complex property risks over a broad range of industries. He started his career at Nicholson Leslie, now Aon.

Nick Cook, CEO of BMS Group, said:

“I’m very pleased to welcome Mark and Dan to BMS. The breadth of their experience and contacts in the US property sector will open up a substantial new client base for BMS. Owing to the ongoing changes within the independent broking sector, we see significant opportunity to strengthen our North American retail business as part of our growth strategy. Mark and Dan’s expertise will play a key role in enhancing and accelerating our strategic development in the sector.”

Mark Lawson said: “BMS already has a reputation for providing independent brokers with a platform to build leading portfolios of business, within a culture that puts the client at the heart of its operations. I look forward to building on this reputation and contributing to BMS’ position as one of the market’s top independent brokers.”

BMS Group appoints David Battman as Head of International

BMS Group Ltd. (“BMS”), the independent specialist insurance and reinsurance broker, today announces that David Battman will join the Company as Head of International in the New Year, reporting to Nick Cook, CEO of BMS.

David joins BMS from Arthur J. Gallagher International (“Gallagher”) where he was Managing Director, International Business Development and a Partner at Alesco RMS. He joined Gallagher in 2006 to develop and help implement the strategy to expand Gallagher’s global footprint and grow its international income. During his tenure, he developed the group’s strategies for regions including Latin America and Asia-Pacific, both of which have since been implemented successfully. David also ran Gallagher’s international broker network, the GGA, matching partner firms’ placement needs with the group’s wholesale capabilities. He recently joined the executive team of Alesco, with responsibility for M&A strategy, distribution and production.

David’s previous employers include Lloyd’s of London, with whom he spent 8 years in roles that included establishing the Lloyd’s Asia underwriting platform in Singapore, and Managing Director, Lloyd’s Spain. Before that, he ran the political risks consulting team at Control Risks Group.

Nick Cook, CEO of BMS Group, said:

“I’m delighted to welcome David to BMS. His depth of experience and impressive track record of designing and implementing sales, marketing, project and risk management strategies in the Lloyd’s and international (re)insurance markets will play a key part in BMS’ ongoing development as a leading independent broker.”

David Battman said:

“It’s a great pleasure to be joining BMS, whose brand is already internationally renowned for the quality of its client service and technical expertise. I look forward to playing my part in the continued growth of its international operations and expansion into new and existing territories.”