Power outages in Chiba Prefecture looked set to continue into the coming weeks as the region continues to recover from Typhoon Faxai. It was one of the strongest landfalling typhoons on record in the seven prefectures of the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo and the strongest to impact the Greater Tokyo area since Typhoon Ma-on in 2004.
Two Landfalls as Faxai Travels Across Tokyo Bay
Faxai made a brief landfall over the Miura Peninsula, Kanagawa Prefecture in
the Kanto region of Japan, just 35 miles (57 kilometers) south-southwest of
Tokyo early morning local time on Monday, September 9. The center of the
typhoon then tracked northeast across Tokyo Bay and made a second landfall over
the city of Chiba (pop. ~979,000), Chiba Prefecture, Japan, 20 miles (32
kilometers) east of Tokyo.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, Faxai had maximum sustained wind speeds of 102 to 106 miles per hour (165 to 170 kilometers per hour) at its landfalls, equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
The year 2020 is just months away, and in the latest edition of EXPOSURE — the RMS magazine for risk management professionals, we consider some of the changes that the (re)insurance industry will have undergone in ten years’ time. Mohsen Rahnama, Cihan Biyikoglu and Moe Khosravy from RMS tackle the issues, examining the evolution of risk management, the drivers of technological change, and how all roads lead to a common, collaborative industry platform.
In late 2005 I was on New Providence Island, Bahamas, producing
a map to show which properties around the island were within the storm surge
flood zone. The northern islands of the Bahamas had been battered by 19 feet (six
meters) of storm surge in 1999 during Hurricane Floyd and flooded again in 2004
Hurricanes’ Frances and Jeanne.
While wandering around the poorer, south side of Nassau, I came across a single-story building, probably a community center or clinic, with barred windows, on which was written “Hurricane Shelter”. It was sufficiently surprising that I even took (and kept) a photo – see below, for the “Hurricane Shelter” was only two to three feet above sea level. If people gathered at this shelter as a strong hurricane approached, they would be placing themselves in mortal danger from an accompanying storm surge.
democratizion of risk data is a core mission for RMS; to provide relevant,
timely risk insight to everyone who needs it, designed for every role in the
business, from those on the frontline of underwriting, through to those
responsible for the entire portfolio. Delivered through simple, elegant
applications, by ensuring relevant data gets to every area of a business you
can build empowered teams that can take effective decisions.
SiteIQ is a great example of this data democratization in action. This application pulls property results from RMS catastrophe models – and supported by qualified third-party data such as crime scores and fire protection measures, it provides an understanding of which hazards are applicable for each location at the point of risk-selection. Risk scores from one to ten, red-amber-green referral advice, high resolution hazard maps, and loss cost data – is all delivered in seconds.
Initial reports from the Bahamas suggest that the islands of
Great Abaco and Grand Bahama have been left devastated from Major Hurricane
Dorian, evoking memories of the destruction on the eastern Caribbean island of Barbuda
in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma just two years ago.
A Record-Breaking Hurricane for the Bahamas and the Atlantic
Dorian underwent an unprecedented period of rapid intensification between August 31 and September 1, that took its maximum sustained wind speed from 150 miles per hour to 185 miles per hour. No other Atlantic hurricane on record has intensified as rapidly as this from such a high initial wind speed. Dorian joins an exclusive group of Atlantic hurricanes to attain wind speeds of 185 miles per hour or greater: Allen (1980), Wilma (2005), Gilbert (1988), and the Labor Day Hurricane (1935).
Dorian maintained this intensity on September 1, and then made a series of landfalls – first across Great Abaco island, and on September 2 across Grand Bahama. In doing so, Dorian became the strongest hurricane in modern records to strike the northwestern Bahamas. As the Category 5 hurricane traversed the islands, its forward speed slowed and it became near stationary over Grand Bahama for roughly 36 hours before gradually moving northwest. Dorian’s eyewall subjected some areas of these islands to destructive wind gusts of up to 220 miles per hour (354 kilometers per hour) and catastrophic storm surge in excess of 20 feet (6 meters).
Dorian looks set to pass over the northern Bahamas in the coming days as
potentially a Category 5 major hurricane, but forecasts regarding future U.S.
impacts remain significantly uncertain, with the latest guidance providing a
twist in the tale that no one anticipated a few days ago.
Understanding the Uncertainty: A Matter of Timing
The meteorological situation that Hurricane Dorian finds itself in is as fascinating as it is uncertain. Several days ago, Florida was bracing itself for potentially its third major hurricane landfall in as many years. Now, Dorian looks more likely to make landfall in the Carolinas, or, as some models increasingly suggest, it may recurve soon enough that is misses the U.S. entirely. So, why have the forecasts been so uncertain? It’s all to do with timing.
The recent allegations against General Electric (GE) read like a financial thriller: Bernie Madoff whistle-blower teams up with anonymous hedge fund to expose the alleged financial misdeeds of one of the most recognizable brands in American history.
But most people’s interest in this story ends abruptly when they hear about the crux of the allegations, which can be summarized in eight words: “… inadequate loss reserves for long term care (re)insurance.” This topic is esoteric at best, and sleep-inducing at worst. It’s impossible to spin into media clickbait. And it’s clear that media is struggling to describe exactly what Harry Markopolos, the whistle-blower, is alleging in his 175 page report.
Now that we’ve reached the halfway stage of the 2019 North Atlantic hurricane season, now feels like a good opportunity to review the season to date and look ahead to what the remainder of the season might have in store.
A Quiet Start to the Season
If you thought the Atlantic had been a little quiet through
the early summer, you’d be correct. The basin has had its quietest start since
2014. The strongest of these storms to date, Barry, made landfall near
Intercoastal City, Louisiana, on July 13 as a weak Category 1 hurricane. RMS
estimated that the insured U.S. losses from Hurricane Barry would not exceed US$500
million, inclusive of wind, storm surge, and inland flood damage, including
losses to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Every twist and
turn of a real-time hurricane can affect global financial markets, public
safety, or government and international aid agencies that provide assistance. Within
the (re)insurance space, the ability to understand forecast track, timing, and potential
hazard and loss impacts before landfall helps entities to prepare and execute
their event response processes effectively. This includes having adequate
capital to cover claims, setting up claim centers and planning policyholder
outreach, securing and positioning adjusters in areas that are likely to be
impacted, and determining what, if any, risk can be ceded to reinsurance or
clients, the traditional approach to quantify potential impacts ahead of a
landfalling storm involves selecting similar storms from the RMS® North
Atlantic Hurricane (NAHU) stochastic event set. While this generates vital
insights that can be extracted quickly from internal databases, there are
opportunities to provide earlier and more comprehensive insights into the storm
ahead of landfall.
To date, RMS clients have also benefited from real-time analysis of hurricane events through RMS HWind Real-Time Analysis products. These observation data-based snapshots and footprints have provided the industry with a standard “ground truth” representation of tropical cyclone wind field size and intensity before, during, and following landfall effectively helping to describe what the storm is doing and what the storm has done.
The first half of 2019 had been unusually quiet in the western
North Pacific tropical cyclone basin. Following the dissipation of the
strongest-ever February typhoon – Wutip, there were no subsequent typhoons
until Francisco reached Category 1 strength on August 4. A few days later,
Typhoon Lekima strengthened significantly on its approach towards the China coastline
and then became the strongest landfalling storm of the year so far.
Lekima Enters the Record Books
Typhoon Lekima made landfall in Wenling City, Zhejiang Province (pop. ~1.3 million), at 1:45 a.m. local time on Saturday, August 10, with an intensity equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale according to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA). With two-minute sustained winds of 116 miles per hour (187 kilometers per hour) and a central pressure at landfall of 930 millibars, Lekima became the third strongest tropical cyclone to impact eastern China after Saomai in 2006 and Wanda in 1956.