Hurricane Lane barrels towards Hawaii (photo courtesy of cbsnews.com)
Almost exactly one year after Hurricane Harvey dropped 50 inches of rain on Texas, Hurricane Lane, a Category 4 cyclone, is now barreling towards the Hawaiian islands, with its outer rainbands already drenching the Big Island. Forecasters say that it’s on course to move very close to the islands, or, make landfall from Thursday through Friday. With the likelihood of a direct hit growing, authorities have urged residents to set aside two weeks worth of food and water.
Exactly one year ago today, as people were flooding out of their downtown Denver offices and beginning their commutes home, the costliest natural catastrophe in Colorado’s state history began wreaking havoc on the Denver metro area. And, it couldn’t have come at a worse time as hundreds of thousands of people hit the highway only to be pummeled by golf ball and baseball-sized hailstones.
The event resulted in insured losses exceeding $2.2 billion according to NOAA, backing up claims professionals and auto body shops while causing massive business interruption costs.
Earlier this morning, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. And, you're probably thinking, "What does this have to do with my underwriting?" Just bear with the logic for a moment...Do you know how often Phil’s forecasts have been right? If he were right even 70-80 percent of the time, would you see animal predictions as rooted in science? A sound piece of data perhaps?
At a glance:
At a glance:
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.
California wildfires burn 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.