Update:  12:55 CDT   has officially been upgraded to Tropical Storm .  Because of Aircraft observation from hurricane hunter.  Not because of satellite, ship, or drone observations. 

Tropical Depression (TD) #9
The insurance industry needs to continue to focus on Tropical Depression (TD) #9 which has been trolling the industry for 14 days. It refuses to take the next step to become named storm “Hermine.” If I had a dollar for every time a model suggested a named storm would develop in the next 12 hours, I would be a wealth meteorologist.

This leads me to the next point: the National Hurricane Center (NHC) classification for storms that approach the U.S. coastline have become increasingly technical in recent years. It is bothersome because it has an impact on the insurance industry. Sandy is a recent example of how technical the NHC storm classification has become. Sandy was downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone less than 100 miles from the New Jersey coastline. With TD #9, countless observations many have suggested that TD #9 should have been a tropical storm. In fact, a ship just recently observed winds of 35 kts.

Even the NOAA Global Hawk Drone aircraft that spent 24 hours observing the storm found tropical storm winds.

This bothers me because back in early 1900’s, storms were classified based on simpler information, such as ship observations. There were no drone aircraft or various other heavily scientific equipped aircraft flying into storms to examine the exact center of circulation. The historical catalogs that are used to create today’s catastrophe models have always used ship reports and flooding rain reports from newspapers to suggest a named storm was likely in the area. This was how storms were classified before all this great technology that allowed the NHC to become so technical. This additional technical information skews modern-day historical catalogs from how it would have otherwise been classified, and it could influence catastrophe models understanding of future named storm risks.

However, storm category is less relevant to the insurance industry at this point in time. The industry needs to focus in on impacts, regardless of what category is ultimately assigned to the system in the Gulf. Which is another lesson learned from Sandy, even a non-hurricane can have hurricane impacts. TD #9 will likely have impacts similar to hurricanes as it tracks northeast over the next several days and makes landfall Thursday night somewhere north of Tampa in the Big Bend region of Florida.

09L_tracks_latest09L_intensity_latest

 

Florida Threats
The main threat at this time is heavy rainfall and flooding. Many parts of Florida will continue to experience heavy rain with a 3” – 13” swath of rain predicted across much of northwestern Florida. Flooding is expected in inland areas and coastal areas as well, as the Big Bend region of the coastline is prone to storm surge. The NHC now issues very detailed storm surge forecasts with every advisory.

Adv12_Surge

 

Depending on the strength of TD #9 at landfall, winds may gust strongly enough to cause tree damage and power outages. An absence of recent hurricanes made the area ripe for tree falls. Soil moisture is already above normal for the projected landfall area, and even a weak gust of wind can down unhealthy or overgrown trees. A good natural cleaning of foliage can be expected.

Lastly, along with any tropical system there is always a risk of isolated tornadoes. The northern and central parts of Florida and far southern parts of Georgia are at risk as the center of the system moves across Florida later this week.

BMS clients can preview many of these hazards by using iVision to better understand their exposure to the upcoming event.

Post-Landfall Florida
Some models suggest that after the system makes landfall in Florida, it could hang around off the East Coast and maybe even make a second landfall in the Northeast later next week. But before we examine the storm’s next move, we need it to move to the Northeast from its current stationary location.