Tropical Storm Hermine formed rapidly yesterday, Wednesday August 31, in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 420 mi (680 km) southwest of Tampa, Florida. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects Hermine to track north northeast, making landfall as a hurricane (albeit a hurricane of lower severity) around 06:00 (UTC) tomorrow south southeast of Tallahassee, Florida.
Commenting on the developing situation RMS meteorologist Tom Sabbatelli said:
“Despite facing higher than average wind shear, Hermine, aided by warm Gulf waters, may strengthen into a category 1 hurricane just prior to landfall on the Florida panhandle. Hermine’s impact is likely to be felt most significantly not through wind but through flooding caused by sea surges and up to 10 inches of forecast rainfall.
This portion of the Gulf coast is subject to significant risk of storm surge-driven flooding due to the shallow-sloping underwater coastline. Furthermore the near record-warm ocean temperatures in the Gulf are helping to drive significant amounts of moisture into Hermine. Thus rain-induced flooding could be another impact driver for this event, from Florida northward along the eastern seaboard.
Wind impacts are expected to be less significant than in past hurricane events but, even at low wind speeds, the risk of treefall is elevated when the ground is heavily saturated.
If the storm does make landfall as a hurricane, it would be the first land-falling hurricane in Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.”
Ben Brookes, RMS VP Capital Markets, added:
“Initial indications are that Hermine will not cause a major insurance industry loss and that this is unlikely to be an event that has a meaningful impact on soft reinsurance market conditions. And, based on the last NHC forecast, RMS analyses show there’s likely to be no significant impact to the catastrophe bond market.
However it is still very early and uncertainty remains – the storm may intensify or create a larger storm surge than anticipated and so this situation could change.
Furthermore these initial estimates of the impact on the insurance industry are not a reason for complacency among those communities in the path of the storm, which is a dangerous natural phenomenon. People should follow the advice of the authorities.”
Further insight from RMS:
Hermine is located in the Gulf of Mexico above warm waters of around 30°C (86°F).
The system is currently producing tropical storm-force winds and has a better organized convective system than in recent days.
Should wind shear in the eastern Gulf of Mexico weaken through Thursday evening local time as forecast, the system could intensify to a Category 1 storm, as anticipated by the NHC, though there remains some uncertainty with this forecast.
After passing over the Florida peninsula on Thursday evening local time, the system is forecast to track northeast parallel with the Carolina coastline. The intensity of the system at this time will be determined by its location and track. If the system remains over land it is expected to weaken further, though an offshore track could lead to renewed strengthening. The exact track remains uncertain at this lead time, but the system is forecast to bring heavy rain to most coastal regions along the Atlantic Seaboard.
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