October 25th, 2010

Update: Hurricane Richard

Posted at 9:04 AM ET

richard-2-smallRichard strengthened into a hurricane over the weekend before making landfall over the central coast of Belize as a category 1 storm earlier today. Richard is currently located approximately 90 miles (150 kilometers) west of Belize City (population of around 100,000 people) and packs sustained winds of around 65 mph (100 kmph), according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm is moving in a west-northwest direction and this general motion with a decrease in forward speed is expected over the next day or so. On this forecast track, Richard is expected to move into northern Guatemala and southeastern Mexico today and the extreme southern Gulf of Mexico tonight or early tomorrow. The NHC said tropical storm-force winds extend 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the center of the storm.

Tropical storm conditions are expected to spread across northern Guatemala and southern parts of the Mexican states of Quintana Roo and Campeche this morning. The NHC said Richard is expected to dump up to 10 inches (255 millimeters) of rain across northern Guatemala, Quintana Roo and Campeche. Forecasters warned the heavy rain could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

richard-2-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.

Reports said Richard has caused some damage in Belize. Richard made landfall around 00:45 UTC on October 25, around 20 miles (35 kilometers) south-southwest of Belize City, according to the NHC. The NHC said the storm packed sustained winds of around 90 mph (150 kmph) as it came ashore, equivalent to a strong category 1 hurricane. Richard maintained its hurricane status as it moved across Belize, before weakening to a tropical storm at 09:00 UTC this morning as it moved into Guatemala. The NHC data shows Belize City was on the cusp of the hurricane windfield, suggesting the city was hit by either weak hurricane-force winds or strong tropical-storm force winds.

Early reports from Belize suggest Richard caused minor damage as it moved through the country. An estimated 10,000 people took shelter in schools and churches ahead of Richard’s arrival. No deaths have been reported so far, but officials said widespread power outages occurred while roofs were ripped off a few poorly constructed homes. Reports said Belize City contains a high number of wooden, tin-roofed homes that are vulnerable to strong winds. Parts of Belize City were also reportedly flooded. According to reports, Belize City had not been directly hit by a hurricane since 1961.

Earlier, Richard skirted Honduras’ Caribbean coast, subjecting the country’s northern coastline to tropical-storm force winds. Observers reported winds of up to 58 mph (93 kmph) in some parts, which caused tress and power lines to fall and forced more than 350 people to evacuate their homes in the Bay Islands, which lie between Honduras and Belize. Heavy rainfall was also recorded in northern Honduras, causing landslides that cut off road access to 40 coastal communities with 15,000 people in northern Colon Province. However, no major damage or injuries were reported in Honduras.

According to the NHC, Richard is expected to move in a general northwest direction over the next day or so as it moves over northern Guatemala and southeast Mexico. Richard is expected to steadily weaken as it moves further inland. The NHC then expects Richard to emerge over the extreme southwestern Gulf of Mexico on October 26 as a tropical depression. Although high sea surface temperatures have been recorded in the southwest Gulf of Mexico, Richard is expected to weaken further over sea due to a strong wind sheer and dry air in the region. The official NHC forecast has Richard dissipating in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on October 28. Guy Carpenter will continue to closely monitor Richard’s progress over the next few days and update this report if there is a significant change to the storm’s forecast track and intensity.

Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Associated Press, Reuters News, Agence France Presse

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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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