Hurricane Hermine made landfall over northwest Florida at approximately 06:00 UTC (02:00 local time) today, Friday September 2 as a Category 1 storm on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 80 mph (130 km/hr).
(1) RMS research has revealed measurable differences in vulnerability between northern Florida, where Hermine made landfall, and the rest of the state, with structures in northern Florida more vulnerable to wind.
This is because there are significant differences in North Florida building stock, which is generally wooden-framed, compared with domestic properties in Central and South Florida where the use of masonry is more common. The buildings are also designed to sustain different wind speeds.
Another possible reason for the higher vulnerability in northern Florida is that the area is more heavily wooded than highly developed Central Florida. Tree falls, especially from squalls in outer rainbands, can contribute to losses in areas that may not have received the highest winds from the core of the storm. For Hermine, this would be evident in the areas from Tampa northward to Perry.
An analysis of wind-related claims from northern Florida related to Hurricane Ivan (2004) showed a higher severity of damage than wind-related claims from historical events which impacted central Florida.
(2) Florida is the US state with the most National Flood Insurance Program policies in force (more than a third of total).
Flooding from storm surge and tropical cyclone precipitation-driven rain are covered perils in an NFIP policy, although the coverage may be restrictive.
Areas that have been affected by Hermine have submitted claims to NFIP for multiple flood events in the past and are likely to do so for this event.
Tampa, generally considered as one of the most flood-prone locations in the U.S., has received over 20 inches of rain from the precipitation bands associated with Hermine.
Since landfall, Hermine has been downgraded to a tropical storm, and will continue to affect the states of Georgia, North and South Carolina for the rest of the day before entering the Atlantic at 06:00 UTC tomorrow, Saturday September 3 off the coast of North Carolina as a weak tropical storm. Hermine is then expected to undergo an extratropical transition, before intensifying and slowing down as it tracks north, posing a threat to the states on the Atlantic coast over Labor Day weekend.
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