September 1st, 2010

Update: Hurricane Earl

Posted at 5:39 PM ET

earl-wed-6pm-smallEarl remains 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 170 miles (270 kilometers) east-northeast of San Salvador and around 725 miles (1,170 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 17 mph (28 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 will approach the North Carolina coast by late Thursday ( September 2). 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.

The NHC has issued a hurricane warning for the U.S. East Coast from Bogue Inlet, North Carolina, northeast to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. The hurricane watch has been adjusted northward and now extends from the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Henlopen, Delaware. A tropical storm warning is in effect for San Salvador Island in the Central Bahamas and from Cape Fear to west of Bogue Inlet, North Carolina. The NHC added that a dangerous storm surge will raise water levels as much as three to five feet within the hurricane warning area. Forecasters predict one to two inches of rainfall, with isolated cases of four inches, over the Bahamas and extreme Eastern North Carolina including the outer banks. 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.

earl-wed-6pm-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.

After causing some damage and disruption to the northern Caribbean and the Virgin Islands, the NHC forecasts the center of Earl to move well east and northeast of the Bahamas today and tonight, and to approach the North Carolina coast by late Thursday, September 2. Forecasters caution that it is still too early to judge how close Earl may come to land. 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, early Friday morning. 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 preparing for a “worst case” scenario, and are doing everything necessary to protect the residents and communities on the East Coast. The governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, declared a state of emergency as a precaution in order to align resources ahead of the storm. The only evacuation orders thus far affect Northern Carolina’s tourist spot of the Outer Banks. On its present course, Earl could unleash tropical storm force winds on parts of the banks, causing powerful waves of up to 20 feet (6 meters) and potential flooding problems. Federal authorities have cautioned all residents on the East Coast to prepare for potential evacuations, and to have disaster plans and supplies ready.

The White House stated that President Obama was briefed by the head of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday morning about preparations for the hurricane landfall.

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.

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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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