September 16th, 2014

Hurricane Odile

Posted at 3:38 PM ET

odile-9-16-sm-200Hurricane Odile made a direct hit to the Southern end of the Baja Peninsula, Mexico, Sunday night, with impacts of great severity. Maximum sustained winds at landfall were 125 mph, a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Odile is now a tropical storm and poses an ongoing threat of wind, surge and especially heavy rain. The wind impacts of Odile include severe to complete damage to hundreds of homes, with severe damage to hotels and the Los Cabos airport. Downed trees and power lines are widespread, and power outages have affected at least 200,000. According to the NHC, Odile is tied with Olivia, which struck in 1967, as the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the state of Baja California Sur.

Meteorological Discussion

According to the NHC, Hurricane Odile made landfall Sunday night near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at about 9:45 p.m. PDT (04:45 UTC). Maximum sustained winds at landfall were 125 mph (estimated over water), a Category 3 hurricane. Sustained winds of 89 mph were reported, with gusts to 116 mph at a surface observing station near Cabo San Lucas. Another weather station near Santa Rosa reported wind gusts to 87 mph.

odile-9-16-lg-500

National Hurricane Center track and estimated wind history. 11 a.m. EDT (15 UTC)

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 GC Analytics® representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

According to the NHC, Odile is tied with Olivia as the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the state of Baja California Sur. Odile also ranks among the most intense hurricanes observed in the Northeast Pacific Basin.

As Odile moved towards the Baja Peninsula, the hurricane underwent a period of rapid intensification with very warm waters and low wind shear. According to NHC advisories, Odile went from a 75 mph hurricane as of 5 a.m. PDT Saturday to 135 mph as of 2 a.m. PDT Sunday, a Category 4 hurricane. Steering currents briefly took Odile on a northward turn before settling back on a northwesterly course, bringing the track of Odile directly into the Baja Peninsula Sunday night.

Odile was downgraded to tropical storm status as of 8 p.m. PDT (03 UTC) Monday, about 24 hours later.

As of 8 a.m. PDT (15 UTC) Tuesday, Tropical Storm Odile maintained maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. Tropical storm force winds extended outward from the center of circulation to 150 miles. Odile maintained a motion to the north-northwest at 9 mph, with a central pressure of 994 mb. Tropical storm watches and warnings remained active for areas under threat.

The NHC is forecasting a turn to the north and then north-northeast with a reduction in forward speed later today and overnight. This will take the center of Odile over the East coast of the Baja Peninsula and then over the Gulf of California to reach the northwestern mainland of Mexico by Wednesday. Odile should continue to weaken, but slowly, due to exceptionally warm waters in the Gulf of California. Odile should weaken to remnant-low status within 24 - 36 hours, and dissipate within 72 hours.

Odile is channeling significant moisture and this will produce very heavy rains even after the storm has weakened over the coming days. Rainfall amounts of 6 - 12 inches with isolated amounts to 18 inches are expected by the NHC across much of the Baja Peninsula and Northwestern Mexico through Friday. Rainfall amounts of three to six inches with isolated amounts to nine inches are possible for the mountains of Southeastern Arizona, Southwestern New Mexico and portions of West Texas. Flash flooding and mudslides will remain an ongoing concern for these areas that very rarely see such rainfall amounts.

For the short term, 24 hours or less, strong winds remain an ongoing threat that can cause light damage to affected structures and more severe damage to older structures or those of low resilience. A storm surge and heavy surf remain an ongoing threat for affected coastal areas, especially for the northern coasts of the Gulf of California.

Impacts

Hurricane Odile caused widespread damage across the Baja California Peninsula of Mexico. Initial reports indicate that hundreds of homes sustained severe damage. Significant damage was also rendered to hotels and other more resilient structures in the affected area, including considerable damage to walls. In addition to building damage, the storm downed trees, caused widespread flooding, and left more than 200,000 residents without power.

The storm made a direct hit on the popular tourist area of Cabos San Lucas, leaving luxury hotels with considerable building damage, flooded lower floors, and blown out windows.  Heavy damage to Los Cabos International Airport was also reported.  The airport is expected to remain closed for at least a week, leaving many tourists stranded. Nearly 30,000 tourists are staying in temporary shelters in hotels across the area.

While no fatalities were reported, more than 130 people were injured.

As a result of smashed storefronts, hundreds of looters were reported to have ransacked supermarkets and electronic stores.

More than 1,000 troops were deployed to the area to assist in recovery efforts. 

Sources: Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France Presse, U.S. National Weather Service, U.S. National Hurricane Center, The Weather Channel.

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Guy Carpenter publishes 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.

Guy Carpenter compiles 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.

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