November 8th, 2010

Update: Hurricane Tomas

Posted at 9:51 AM ET

tomas5-smallHurricane Tomas moved through the northern Caribbean over the weekend, causing moderate damage but sparing most countries in the region a direct hit. Tomas passed through the Windward Strait as a category 1 hurricane on 5 November without making landfall in either Haiti or Cuba, before tracking across the Turk and Caicos Islands as a tropical storm the following day. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the westernmost point of Haiti experienced hurricane-force winds while tropical storm conditions hit eastern Cuba, the Turks and Caicos Islands, parts of the Dominican Republic and the southern Bahamas. After moving through the Caribbean, Tomas encountered unfavorable conditions as it continued its northeasterly track and dissipated in the mid-Atlantic on November 7.

The NHC said Tomas passed around 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the westernmost point of Haiti and some 15 miles (25 kilometers) to the east of Cuba. Forecasters said Haiti was subjected to the storm’s strongest winds that were located to the north and east of the eyewall. Wind damage was reported in coastal areas of western Haiti. Reports said Tomas also brought heavy rain to the country, triggering widespread flooding that caused structural damage in areas to the west of Port-au-Prince, the capital. Floodwaters inundated streets in Leogane and about 12 inches (305 millimeters) of water was reported in the flood-prone northwestern city of Gonaives, reports said. Charity workers said the floodwaters in Leogane had affected some 35,000 people. There was also flooding in Les Cayes and Jacmel, according to reports. Officials said at least eight people were killed in Haiti.

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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.

Although it was a serious blow, officials said Haiti fared better than had been feared. Prior to the storm’s arrival, humanitarian organizations in the country had been concerned for the 1.5 million survivors of January’s 7.0Mw earthquake who are still living in tented camps vulnerable to strong winds and heavy rain. To compound matters, the country is also struggling to recover from a cholera outbreak that has killed around 500 people so far and sickened nearly 7,400 more. Reports said the camps appeared to have withstood Tomas’s severe weather better than expected but aid agencies fear the cholera outbreak could worsen.

Moderate damage was reported elsewhere in the Caribbean. In the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, heavy rain from Tomas left 39 communities isolated and forced more than 12,000 people to evacuate their homes. Schools, airports and banks were closed in Turks and Caicos Islands, but Governor Gordon Wetherell said an aerial assessment of the islands showed no serious damage. In Cuba, meanwhile, coastal flooding, landslides and moderate infrastructure damage was reported in eastern regions of the country.

Elsewhere, authorities in Jamaica evacuated hundreds of people from low-lying and flood-prone areas in eastern regions of the island as Tomas approached. According to the NHC, Tomas passed around 80 miles (130 kilometers) to the east of Jamaica, meaning the strongest winds remained offshore and residents on the island escaped the worst of the severe weather. No significant damage has been reported in Jamaica.

Earlier, Tomas swept over islands in the eastern Caribbean as a category 1 hurricane on October 30, causing significant damage and power outages in Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. According to reports, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) said Tomas triggered a hurricane coverage insurance payout of USD12.8 million in Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. More information on the damage in the eastern Caribbean can be found by clicking here.

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

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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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