Just after the tropical update yesterday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) proceeded to upgrade Potential Tropical Cyclone Three to Tropical Storm Cindy. Currently Cindy is located 170 miles SSW of Morgan City, LA and may be the ugliest organized named storm that meteorologists have seen in the Gulf of Mexico in quite some time. It’s even questionable if it meets the true definition of a named tropical storm. In their 4 a.m. tropical discussion, even the NHC suggests that the cyclone is more characteristic of a subtropical cyclone and that the current categorization is generous.
Cindy is still expected to make landfall late tonight near the Texas/Louisiana border as a tropical storm. This landfall location is no stranger to named tropical storms, with 25 other tropical storms having tracked within 55 miles of the expected landfall location, based on historical records. However, as highlighted in the past few updates, the majority of insured impacts are being felt far away from the center of Cindy across eastern Louisiana and the panhandle of Florida. Heavy rainfall and flooding still appear to be the main threats across these areas. The BMS iVision Verisk Climate total rainfall layer suggests that isolated coastal areas have seen upwards of 4 – 6” of rain over the last 24 hours.
New Orleans recorded record rainfall yesterday of 1.62” and more is expected today as an atmospheric river of moisture is pulled north from the deep tropics over the same area, creating a storm total that may be close to 14” in some areas.
Although there have been many tornado warnings issued over the last 24 hours for the central Gulf Coast, only 2 confirmed tornados, both weak with minimal damage, have been reported. As of this morning, no wind damage reports have been logged with the National Weather Service.
Based on the iVision Verisk Climate maximum gust data layer, most coastal areas will only experience winds of 40 – 69 mph, which in most cases is below the damage threshold for many structures.
As history would suggest, it is difficult to estimate insured losses from weak tropical storms. Let’s look at three historical tropical storms (Chris 1982, Debra 1978, TS#2 1987) that took a similar track inland as to what Cindy is forecasted to take. The insured losses from these storms range from $2 million to $12 million. However, given the large threat of flooding from Cindy, it should be noted that the major Louisiana flood event that occurred from August 11, 2016 to August 15, 2016 reached $1 billion in insured losses. Estimating insured losses of tropical storms can be difficult.
As expected, Tropical Storm Bret has dissipated in the southern Caribbean. Looking ahead over the longer term, the tropics should remain quiet for the next two weeks as the active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation moves away from the Atlantic basin and other climate forcers such as the SAL layer and high wind shear hinder tropical development.