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KCC White Paper has future hurricane warning

Karen Clark & Company scientists and engineers conducted a post-event survey in Florida, followed by a second damage survey in March 2023.

As a new hurricane season looms, analysts reviewing past data expect more powerful storms for the Atlantic Ocean, storms that can quickly intensify into monsters, threatening life and property.

And for the Florida counties hardest hit by Hurricane Ian in September, a new report anticipates there are still months ahead for recovery.

A review of last year’s hurricane season determined that debris removal and building repairs from Hurricane Ian were still under way in the impacted areas of Florida in March, six months after the storm. And many more months were needed to complete the work.

Karen Clark & Company’s 2022 North Atlantic Hurricane Season in Review shared insights and findings from two comprehensive damage surveys conducted by KCC scientists and engineers following Hurricane Ian — directly post-storm, and then again in March 2023.

KCC’s post-storm damage survey team observed buildings in various states of repair — ranging from minor damage that has been fully repaired to completely destroyed buildings that have not yet been demolished or cleared.

While three named storms made landfall in the United States in 2022, Ian was the only major hurricane, slamming into Florida near Cape Coral with maximum sustained winds of 150mph.

In fact, the three-year period of 2020, 2021 and 2022 marked the first time in the historical record that hurricanes with maximum winds of 150mph or greater made landfall in the US in consecutive years (Laura, 2020; Ida, 2021; Ian, 2022).

Total privately insured losses from all 2022 events are expected to be $64 billion, which includes residential, commercial, industrial properties and automobiles.

The report notes that climate change is driving an increase in sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Basin and, as a result, rapid intensification — which is closely linked to both SSTs and climate change — has been observed with more frequency in this region.

A hurricane needs three main ingredients to rapidly intensify: low vertical wind shear, high ocean heat content and high SSTs. SSTs in the Atlantic were above average in 2022.

As ocean temperatures continue to increase because of climate change, rapid intensification of storms is likely to become even more frequent.

In addition to potentially stronger storms forming in the Atlantic, last-minute intensification before landfall adds uncertainty to the storm forecast, makes projecting potential coastal impacts more challenging and complicates disaster preparedness.

Ian reached a peak intensity of 160mph (Category 5) before weakening slightly and making landfall in Florida on September 28 near Cayo Costa as a strong Category 4 storm with 150mph winds. After landfall, Ian slowly moved north-east across the peninsula, bringing widespread destruction. Most of the Florida peninsula experienced at least tropical storm-force winds.

The Florida component of the loss from Hurricane Ian includes an assumption that there will be a high number of litigated claims, comparable to the excess litigation experienced in Hurricanes Irma and Michael.

Additionally, the proportion of auto losses in Ian is estimated to be higher than average because of widespread storm surge.

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Published May 02, 2023 at 7:22 am (Updated May 02, 2023 at 7:22 am)

KCC White Paper has future hurricane warning

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