Hurricane track above Earth; photo courtesy of The Atlantic
Feeling a bit apocalyptic out there? Four back-to-back Category 4 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria), coupled with wildfires and earthquakes, have left many North Americans, in particular, wondering is this the new norm? Or, is this what we should have expected from the 2017 hurricane season? (Read on and tweet us @spatialkey to cast your vote).
Recent wildfires in Northern California, specifically in Napa and Sonoma counties, have sparked widespread devastation across the area to lives, homes, and businesses. Despite the fires still being active, and the numbers still being calculated, this event is already “the deadliest and most destructive series of wildfires in California history,” and among the worst in U.S. history. And with damages estimated between $3 billion and $6 billion (which could still rise), insurers may face another massive payout due to natural catastrophes in 2017. These devastating events are proof that data is the only line of defense for insurers. And, it’s more paramount than ever, to gain a better understanding of how you can use data to better mitigate and underwrite wildfire risk going forward.
A Paras Vineyards building burns in the Napa area Oct. 10, 2017 (courtesy of Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
This fall, it seems that we can’t catch a break from natural catastrophes and extreme weather. While many people have been eyeing the record-setting hurricanes we’ve seen over the last few months, wildfires in the West are rapidly competing for our attention. Northern California is the latest area to be hit by wildfires, and as of Thursday, they’ve burned for five days straight, with the worst occurring in Napa and Sonoma counties.
An abandoned boat takes on water on the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Image courtesy of NY Post
Hurricane Nate made landfall Saturday night as a Category 1 hurricane, packing winds of 85 MPH. Nate follows a slew of major storms, some of which have been historic. With record-setting floods and maximum sustained winds, these storms are a reminder that we need to stay prepared, and remain alert once an event is forecasted.
Hurricane Maria devastation, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
Hurricane Maria barreled into Puerto Rico on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane and was the most powerful storm the island has seen in nearly a century. Earlier in the week, Maria hit the Caribbean island of Dominica as a Category 5 hurricane. Maria is the fourth major hurricane (Category 3 or more) this season and on track with NOAA’s predictions. While four major hurricanes should not come as a surprise, what has been surprising is how close together they have occurred. Maria comes on the heels of Harvey, Irma, and Jose, making it imperative that insurers work to stay ahead of these events and be prepared in a time of extreme weather uncertainty.
We live in a world where terrorism is a constant and unpredictable threat. Recent attacks have hit too close to home for some of us, and may make all of us feel powerless over our personal lives and businesses. Likewise, as insurers and insurance stakeholders, recent attacks remind us that we have to be smart about what we do to protect our livelihoods. It’s a business, yes, but it’s also a valued service.
Just weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated much of Texas and Louisiana, causing record-breaking floods and rampant destruction, we’re already preparing for Hurricane Irma. The storm is projected to make landfall in Florida this weekend as at least a Category 4 hurricane. Based on wind speed, Irma is among the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record. And, with severe damages in the Caribbean already, Irma will be one to watch very closely. In a time of chaos and uncertainty, we must all work together—insurance carriers, commercial providers, government, and scientists alike—to share as much information as we can to protect policyholders and portfolios. With this in mind, we’ve created a list of SpatialKey-specific resources as well as our top external resources:
Severe flooding in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey (businessinsider.com)
Since progressing to Category 4 strength over the weekend, Hurricane Harvey has regressed back into a tropical storm. As predicted, rainfall and flooding have taken over as the main threats from Harvey, making this storm far from finished.
Track of Hurricane Harvey and sample portfolio exposure
When Hurricane Harvey makes its eventual landfall late Friday evening into Saturday morning, it’s expected to be the first Category 3 hurricane to hit Texas since Hurricane Bret in 1999. The storm grew quickly, with 30 mph winds developing into 80+ mph winds in just a few days.
“We got cows!” This memorable line from the movie Twister came when a cow was hurled by a tornado in front of a truck driven by two storm chasers. A tornado can pick up just about anything, and while flying cows may not be on most insurers’ minds, they do need to worry about the impact 200+ mph winds could have on their books of business.