Posts Tagged ‘matthew’

Christian Cámara: Reinsurance saved Florida from catastrophic losses

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

As the Nov. 30 end of the hurricane season approaches, Floridians should be thankful. While this year’s storms Hermine and Matthew brought an end to the state’s decade-long hurricane drought, they easily could have been stronger or cut a more destructive path.
Indeed, had Hurricane Matthew tracked just 20 or more miles further west, it would have raked the entire east coast of Florida, bringing the full force of a Category 4 storm to the most populated and wealth-concentrated coastline in the region. Insured losses could have topped $35 billion.
That’s not to say the actual losses were trivial or insignificant. Thousands of homes and businesses were damaged, especially along Florida’s northeast coast. As of Oct. 27, the state reported more than 100,000 Hurricane Matthew-related insurance claims, and thousands more are expected to be filed in coming months. Ultimately, total losses are expected to reach $5 billion.
But thanks to responsible decisions made by Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature over the past several years, coupled with trends in the global economy, homeowners are not expected to see insurance rate increases because of these storms.
Part of the luck Florida has experienced over the past decade is due not only to Mother Nature, but also to the reinsurance market. Reinsurance is insurance for insurance companies; that is, when an insurance company experiences catastrophic losses due to a major like a hurricane, its reinsurance protection kicks in and pays out a pre-negotiated percentage of claims.
Due to a realignment in the global capital markets, reinsurance prices have plummeted over the past several years, ushering in a “buyers’ market” that insurance companies have used to export more of their risk abroad and write more policies at home. Lawmakers and state regulators took note of this trend. Among other important insurance reforms, they have allowed state-run Citizens Property

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Manley Fuller: Hurricane Matthew delivers another reminder of life on Florida’s coastline

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Manley Fuller
Early estimates placed Florida’s total economic damage from Hurricane Matthew in the range of $25 – 70 billion.
With the weakening of the storm and a track that moved the storm eastward, the estimated damage from the storm dropped significantly, but that should not keep us from acknowledging the real threat Matthew was to Florida.
Real estate analytics firm CoreLogic estimates that more than 954,000 homes in Florida are at risk of surge damage from a Category 4 storm. If Matthew had turned inland even by 20 miles, the losses experienced would have been on par with Hurricane Sandy.
Thankfully, managers of the Florida’s Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (or “Cat Fund” as it is commonly called) convinced Gov. Scott and the State Cabinet, sitting as the Board of Administration, to up the state’s purchase of reinsurance to $1 billion. That is on top of a record $17 billion in reserves due to a series of 10 years without a significant storm event.
So, Florida residents are less likely to see an assessment on our insurance bills, or as we call it a “hurricane tax.”
Unlikely, that is unless Florida gets hit by another storm. It is the scenario that keeps state insurance regulators up at night.
A second storm on the heels of a Hurricane Matthew would leave no other choice than to go to the bond markets, a costly step that once again, relies on taxpayers to repay the state’s borrowings.
FWF has spent a number of years working with reinsurers and our allies in the Stronger Safer Florida Coalition to convince policymakers that private insurance is the best means to cover risks in our coastal communities.
We believe it should not fall on the backs of taxpayers to cover repeated flood loss. Congress appears to be heeding these warnings as they prepare to re-enact the Nation

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By hugging coast while over water, Matthew stays stronger

Friday, October 7th, 2016

In its record-long week as a major hurricane, Matthew has threaded the needle with its track, staying over warm waters that provide fuel and avoiding land that could starve it. That’s been a bit of good news for Florida, but if does actually hit land farther up the coast — and that’s still a big question mark — that region would pay the price for Florida’s good luck.
Here are some questions and answers about Matthew:
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Q: What does Matthew not quite hitting Florida mean for Georgia and the Carolinas?
A: It keeps the danger level higher, meteorologists say, because the close-but-not-quite-over-land track has kept Matthew’s eye relatively strong. It’s now been a week and counting as a major hurricane.
Matthew has found “one of the most ideal tracks that a hurricane can find to maintain that intensity,” said University of Miami tropical meteorology researcher Brian McNoldy.
“It probably would be weaker if it would have gone over land in Florida instead of what it’s doing,” agreed senior scientist Christopher Davis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
Q: How tight a needle has Matthew threaded?
A: Matthew is traveling up the Atlantic’s warm Gulf Stream. A bit to the east, the water is cooler, providing weaker fuel. Just 10-to-30 miles westward is the coast, where the air is drier.
When a storm moves over land from warm water, it is like the ultimate severe diet: Eventually, it starves.
“This is a case that will probably save a lot of the coastal cities from pretty destructive wind, but the hurricane itself will maintain a lot of intensity,” McNoldy says.
Just outside the eyewall, the wind speed has dropped dramatically; by noon Friday, no place on Florida had sustained winds that were hurricane force, even though Cape Canaveral had a gust of 107 mph, says former hurricane hunter

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‘This is not over’: Hurricane sideswipes Florida coast

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Hurricane Matthew sideswiped Florida’s Atlantic coast early Friday, toppling trees onto homes and knocking out power to more than 800,000 people but sparing the most heavily populated stretch of shoreline the catastrophic blow many had feared.
Authorities warned that the danger was far from over, with hundreds of miles of coastline in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina still under threat of torrential rain and deadly storm surge as the most powerful hurricane to menace the Atlantic Seaboard in over a decade pushed north.
They warned, too, that the storm could easily take a turn inland.
“It still has time to do a direct hit,” Gov. Rick Scott said in the morning. “This is not over. … It could be the worst part of this is yet to come.”
Meanwhile, the magnitude of the devastation inflicted by Matthew as it roared through the Caribbean became ever clearer, with officials in Haiti raising the death toll there to nearly 300, while also cautioning that there were scores of bodies that had yet to be recorded.
In Florida, Matthew was downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane overnight, and its storm center, or eye, hung just offshore Friday morning as it moved up the coastline, sparing communities the full force of its 120 mph winds.
Still, it got close enough to knock down trees and power lines, damage buildings and flood streets.
In historic St. Augustine, Florida, the downtown district was impassable by noon, with a combination of seawater and rainwater. A giant oak limb had fallen in an old cemetery, and the power started going out in some neighborhoods as transformers exploded.
On Georgia’s Tybee Island, where most of the 3,000 residents were evacuated, Jeff Dickey had been holding out hope that the storm might shift and spare his home. As the rain picked up, he decided staying wasn’t worth the

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Covering Florida’s past big storms: Music and wait from hell

Friday, October 7th, 2016

By Seth Borenstein — AP Science Writer
Winds whipped around my pulled-tight raincoat with a fierce noise as pieces of a giant red sign my newspaper installed atop its office tower littered the ground around me. After what seemed like an excruciatingly long wait, Hurricane Andrew had arrived.
Hours and days later I would see how deadly those winds were, how vast the devastation they caused. I would cry as I watched Andrew’s child victims trying to cope with upside-down life in a tent city surrounded by rubble and rotting food. Yet nearly 25 years later, my strongest memories aren’t the wind, tears or debris. It was the adrenaline-stoked waiting.
As Andrew approached, those of us covering the hurricane — and our families, friends and neighbors — were inundated with a sense of impending disaster, fear, and yes, excitement. For journalists, it felt like it just might become the story of a lifetime.
The year was 1992. I was the main hurricane writer for the Sun-Sentinel, headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, but more than 25 years had passed since a hurricane had hit us. That’s not too different than this last decade, between hurricanes Wilma and Matthew.
Like many other people in Florida, I thought of killer storms as an abstraction. Working the hurricane beat meant going on a rare yearly trip to a hurricane conference, and having to write the newspaper’s annual supplement telling residents how to prepare.
After a few years writing the same thing each year, I convinced my bosses that it would be fun to drive home the point of storm danger by writing about a fictional hurricane — clearly marked fiction — and the aftermath of a direct hit on the region. My dreamed-up hurricane — I named it Igor — even attracted interest in a television miniseries. But it missed one thing: reality.
After

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Hundreds of thousands flee Florida coast to escape Matthew’s fury

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Hundreds of thousands of anxious people boarded up their homes and businesses and grabbed a few belongings to flee inland as Hurricane Matthew gained strength and roared toward the Southeast seaboard on Thursday.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said the state, its skies already darkening from early outer rain bands of the life-threatening storm, could be facing its “biggest evacuation ever” as Matthew menaces almost all the state’s Atlantic coast.
As people hurried for higher ground, authorities in South Carolina said a motorist died on Wednesday after being shot by deputies during an altercation along an evacuation route.
Scott said Florida, its skies already darkening from early outer rain bands of the life-threatening storm, could be facing its “biggest evacuation ever” as Matthew menaces almost all the state’s Atlantic coast.
About 2 million people from Florida across Georgia to South Carolina were being encouraged to head inland and away from the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade. Matthew killed at least 16 people in the Caribbean as it sliced through Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas.
“This is a dangerous storm,” Scott warned. “The storm has already killed people. We should expect the same impact in Florida.”
Hurricane Matthew is barreling over the Bahamas and taking aim at Florida, expected to near the Atlantic coast starting Thursday night. The Category 3 storm has top sustained winds of 125 mph. Florida hasn’t been hit by a storm this powerful in more than a decade.
Florida emergency officials said 48 shelters in schools already have begun providing refuge to more than 3,000 people, some with special needs, mostly in coastal counties where evacuations both mandatory and voluntary were underway. Patients also were transferred from two Florida waterfront hospitals and a nursing home near Daytona Beach to safer locations.
Major theme parks in Orlando, central

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