September 1st, 2010

Update: Hurricane Earl

Posted at 10:59 AM ET

earl-wed-smallEarl is now a category three hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), with the center of the storm presently located around 175 miles (280 kilometers) north of Grand Turk Island and around 815 miles (1315 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.

Earl is currently packing sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kmph) and is moving towards the northwest at around 16 mph (26 kmph). The NHC reports that this general motion is set to continue today, with the storm making a gradual turn to the north-northwest thereafter. According to the NHC, the center of Earl is forecast to track well east and northeast of the Bahamas today and tonight, and could approach the North Carolina coast by Friday morning ( September 3). At present, hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles (150 kilometers) and tropical storm winds extend outward up to 200 miles (325 kilometers) from the center of the storm.earl-wed-big3

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 has issued a hurricane watch for the coast of Virginia, extending from the North of Surf City in North Carolina to Parramore Island in Virginia, including the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the North Carolina coast from Cape Fear to Surf City and for San Salvador Island in the Central Bahamas. The NHC added that large swells from Earl should begin to affect the Bahamas and the south eastern coast of the Unites States today and warned that these could cause dangerous surf conditions and rip currents. The NHC advised that interests elsewhere from Virginia Northward to New England should monitor Earl’s progress.

After causing some damage and disruption to the northern Caribbean and the Virgin Islands, Earl is now forecast to approach the North Carolina coast by Friday, September 3, although there is uncertainty as to Earl’s forecast track and its potential impact on the U.S. mainland. According to the NHC five-day forecast, Earl will be a category three hurricane at its closest point to the North Carolina coast between Surf City and Parramore Island, in 48 hours. At this range, Earl is forecast to batter the Northern Carolina and Southern Virginia coast with tropical storm-force winds and heavy rain. However, according to sources, the forecast track would only need a slight deviation west for hurricane-force winds to impact the coastline. According to the NHC forecast, Earl’s track will take the storm to the northeast in 48 - 72 hours time, and beyond this, long-range forecasts see the storm making possible landfall over Nova Scotia, Canada. There is currently a large cone of uncertainty associated with this long-range forecast and a slight deviation of the forecast track to the west could potentially see Earl impacting the U.S. north eastern seaboard. Earl’s strength over the next 48 hours is forecast to remain stable at category three, after which cooler sea temperatures as the storm tracks northeast are likely to cause the system to weaken.

At present, reports say that U.S. officials are keeping a close eye on the storm warnings, as evacuation plans are likely to be put into place for certain coastal areas. On its present course, Earl could unleash tropical storm force winds on parts of Northern Carolina’s tourist spot of the Outer Banks, causing powerful waves of up to 20 feet (6 meters) and potential flooding problems.

The White House said that President Obama would be consulting the head of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday morning to discuss the preparations being made in the United States for the arrival of Earl.

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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