Waiting for the Turn North
Did you know that the Associated Press has reported that 5.6 million people have been asked to evacuate Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma? To my knowledge, this is now the largest evacuation in U.S. history. The previous record was 3.7 million people who evacuated ahead of Hurricane Rita in 2005.
Irma made landfall in Cuba last night as a Category 5 hurricane, making it the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Cuba since 1924. Irma has since weakened back down to a Category 4 hurricane due to half of the storm being over land, starving it from the warm waters of the Florida Strait. Irma should finally head more northwest today and turn towards Florida, which undoubtedly has been delayed. In fact, Irma is now at a longitude of 79.6W, very close to the longitude of Miami, so unless Irma takes one of the sharpest turns in hurricane history, a direct hit to Miami can almost certainly be ruled out. This has caused a drastic change in loss estimates from some of the scenarios over the last several days. However, with a shift in track to the west, this will now put the highest winds over Florida’s west coast and some of those major population centers.
The expected turn to the north should still occur, but as I talked about earlier in the week, the trend is your friend and the trend has been for the track to move west. This is actually bad for a couple of reasons. As mentioned, this would put the highest winds right along the west coast as Irma tracks north. It also puts Irma in the warm waters of the eastern Gulf of Mexico for a longer period of time, allowing it to gather strength and potentially be upgraded back to a Category 5 over the next 48 hours.
Detailed Wind Swath and Expected Damage
This Morning’s – 9 AM EDT BMS Tropical Update Webinar on Irma
This morning BMS hosted another webinar. If you missed this, I provided an update of the items being discussed in this blog in more detail, and our President Steve Korducki and Executive Vice President Julie Serakos covered the CEO check list of things companies should be doing at this stage and the current state of the market with summary of insured losses.