August 31st, 2010

Update: Hurricane Earl

Posted at 9:37 AM ET

earl-tues-smallHurricane Earl has strengthened to category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the center of Earl is located around 150 miles (240 kilometers) north north-west of San Juan Puerto Rico and around 290 miles (470 kilometers) east south-east of Grand Turk Island.

Earl is currently moving towards the west north-west at around 13 mph (20 kmph) and packs sustained winds of 135 mph (215 kmph). The NHC forecast Earl to make a gradual turn towards the northwest today, with this motion expected to continue through Wednesday, September 1. The NHC reports that the center of Earl will move away from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands this morning, to cross the open Atlantic Ocean east of the Turks and Caicos Islands later today and this evening. The NHC added that hurricane-force winds extend outwards up to 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the storm’s center.

earl-tues-big

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or Instrat® representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

The NHC currently has a tropical storm warning in effect for Puerto Rico and the islands of Culebra and Vieques, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and the Turks, and Caicos Islands. According to the NHC, tropical storm conditions are expected to spread into the Turks and Caicos Islands by this afternoon and above normal tides and battering waves are also possible both here and in the south-eastern Bahamas. Earl is expected to produce rainfall accumulations of around 1-2 inches (3-5 cm) across portions of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico today, which risk triggering flash floods and mudslides.

Hurricane Earl is now tracking towards the U.S. coastline, after having battered the northern Caribbean with heavy rain and winds that reportedly damaged homes and downed power lines. According to reports, Earl caused flooding in low-lying areas and damaged homes on the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla and St. Maarten. In Antigua, at least one home was reported as having been destroyed, but there were no reports of serious injuries. Across the region, there were reports of thousands of people affected by power outages as the hurricane-force winds downed power lines and reports of transport disruption as the hurricane forced the diversion of cruise ships and caused flight cancellations.

The center of Earl passed just north of the British Virgin Islands on the afternoon of August 30, and by the evening the hurricane was tracking away from the Caribbean. On Anegada, the northernmost of the British Virgin Islands, reports said that the hurricane had ripped roofs from homes, but the extent of the damage across the Virgin Islands as a whole remained unclear as of the evening of August 30. According to emergency officials, there were no immediate reports of fatalities or casualties.

There were no reports of major damage from Earl in Puerto Rico, although heavy rains from the hurricane’s outer rain bands still threaten to cause flash floods and mudslides both in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

More long-range forecasts predict that Earl could potentially brush the U.S. East Coast late on Thursday September 2, before curving back out to sea, possibly affecting New England or far-eastern Canada. The NHC warned that interests from the Carolinas northwards to New England should carefully monitor the progress of Earl. On Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency urged residents up and down the East Coast to prepare for severe weather. Whilst it is still too early to predict what effect Earl will have in the U.S., the storm is at least likely to produce dangerous rip currents on the East Coast.

Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Agence France Press, Associated Press, CNN.

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Guy Carpenter’s Instrat® department provides CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email CAT.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Instrat also provides RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email RISK.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or Instrat® representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

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