Lloyd’s Braces for U.S. Hurricanes

Lloyd’s insurers with exposures on the US East Coast have been told to brace themselves for an above average storm season, with as many as eight hurricanes tearing through the Atlantic.

In an article on its web site (www.lloyds.com), Lloyd’s cited the forecast from William Gray and Phil Klotzbach, hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU), who “believe there is a 69 percent chance of a major hurricane hitting the US coastline in this year’s season,” which officially begins on the first of June. The average over the last century has been 52 percent. (See also IJ web site – https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2008/04/10/89038.htm).

There is around a 45 percent chance that a major hurricane (Cat 3-5) will hit the US East Coast and another the Gulf Coast that was hit so heavily by the 2005 storms. Above-average major hurricane landfall is also expected in the Caribbean.

In total the CSU forecast anticipates 15 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin, of which eight are predicted to become hurricanes, and four of those are expected to develop into intense or major storms.

Lloyd’s noted that “Gray and Klotzbach have increased their forecast by two tropical storms and one hurricane from the last outlook issued in December 2007, citing improved conditions for storm development, including warmer sea surface temperatures in the eastern Atlantic.”

Gray warned: “Current oceanic and atmospheric trends indicate that we will likely have an active Atlantic basin hurricane season,” although Klotzbach admitted it is unlikely to reach the unprecedented levels of 2004 and 2005.

It’s been a tough few years for hurricane forecasters. This time last year, Klotzbach and Gray forecast 17 named storms during the 2007 Atlantic season, with nine becoming hurricanes and three of them major storms.

By the season’s end, however, there had been 15 named storms, with just six making it to hurricane strength. Only two became major storms, although both of those made landfall as powerful Category 5 hurricanes.

The presence last year of La Nina conditions – unusually cool temperatures in the eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean – had been expected to enhance conditions for the growth of tropical storms in the Atlantic, pushing storm activity toward the upper end of experts’ predictions. But the elements did not cooperate, undercutting many hurricane forecasts.

Source: Lloyd’s