Betting on Mother Nature

When you consider lofty odds like the chances you will win the Mega Million lottery (1 in 259 million) or the chance you will get hit by lightning (1 in 280,000) it blunts your appreciation of very unlikely, if not statistically improbable, events.

Consider some of the things with 500-to-1 odds:

We witnessed something that has a 500-1 chance of happening recently in nature: two storms hit Bermuda within six days of each other. Bermuda was recently hit by a tropical storm (Fay) and a borderline category 2/3 hurricane (Gonzalo) within six days. The chances of two tropical systems hitting what amounts to a tiny dot in the middle of Atlantic Ocean this year was 1-in-500 according to our modeling.

Not statistically improbable, but certainly not a normal occurrence.

Even more impressive, the natural fluke comes after a relatively inactive hurricane season. There have been seven named storms in 2014; six have reached hurricane status.

The climatological peak of the Atlantic season for hurricanes is mid-September and generally associated with storms that develop as they cross from Africa toward the Caribbean. However, there is a secondary peak in October related to storms developing closer to the U.S. in areas such as the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

The cumulative intensity of this season’s storms is lower than average. Our research attributes this to cooler than normal sea temperatures in the Atlantic lessening energy, along with higher than normal sea pressures suppressing thunderstorms. It would be interesting to see what the odds were for Gonzalo and Fay both hitting Bermuda if we factored in a slow hurricane season.


Satellite Eyes First Major Atlantic Hurricane in 3 Years: Gonzalo

Senior Director, Model Product Strategy, RMS
Brian Owens is a meteorologist and specialist in catastrophe risk management. At RMS he is responsible for market engagement and product strategy for the European and North America models.

Brian has more than 15 years’ experience in insurance, catastrophe financing and catastrophe risk management and has held senior positions at JP Morgan Chase, ACE European Group and Willis Re. He is also a published science author, and has written numerous articles and blogs on catastrophe risk modeling and management.

Brian holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Ireland, a master’s in finance from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s in meteorology from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami.

2 thoughts on “Betting on Mother Nature

  1. Pingback: Insurance Industry Takeaways from 2014 Tropical Season « bmsmedia-dev

  2. Pingback: Insurance Industry Takeaways from 2014 Tropical Season « BMS Media Centre

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