Guy Carpenter & Co. LLC warned that the U.S. Atlantic and Caribbean coastal regions should prepare for at least two hurricanes to make landfall during the 2014 season, even with lower-than-expected severe weather predictions due to an El Niño emergence.
The global risk and reinsurance specialist and member of Marsh & McClennan Companies emphasized in its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season briefing the need for insurers and property owners to prepare for the worst, regardless of El Niño-related weather expectations. El Niño conditions include warmer-than-normal sea-surface temperatures in the tropical East Pacific, which can cause conditions that disrupt tropical cyclone formation in the Atlantic. Still, there is precedent for continued caution, El Niño or not, Guy Carpenter pointed out in its report.
“It is… accepted that El Niño conditions tend to suppress hurricane development in the Atlantic basin, but scientific research reveals that this effect is strongest in the deep tropics. Also, the strength, placement and onset date of the El Niño and its suppressing effects are still subject to some uncertainty, ” Guy Carpenter noted in its briefing.
“The risk of a landfalling hurricane is a serious threat for any tropical season, regardless of seasonal outlooks for the Atlantic Basin at large,” James Waller, research meteorologist for Guy Carpenter Analystics, said in a statement issued with the company’s hurricane briefing. “While there is indeed a weak correlation between hurricane counts in the Atlantic Basin and the number of U.S. landfalls, statistical significance is the subject of some debate in the scientific community.”
Hurricane preparedness remains necessary, in part, because of precedence set in both strong and weak El Niño years, Guy Carpenter said.
“The 2004 hurricane season was a weak El Niño year, which brought five landfalling U.S. hurricanes, four of which affected Florida,” the Guy Carpenter briefing noted. “The 1965 season was a strong El Niño year, with four hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin, and a single landfalling U.S. Hurricane named Betsy that rendered severe impacts to the Florida Keys and the North Gulf Coast.”
There’s also the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season to keep in mind, Guy Carpenter said, which was light on hurricanes, but in the end, remains known for profoundly heavy hurricane-related damage.
“The 1992 season was a decaying El Niño year, and a quiet season with only four hurricanes in the basin, and a single U.S. landfall – Hurricane Andrew,” Guy Carpenter noted. “That storm is among the strongest U.S. landfalling hurricanes on record and brought long-lasting impacts to the insurance industry, not to mention the residents of Homestead, Fla.”
Guy Carpenter recommended that property owners and insurers/reinsurers review response plans and procedures as the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season commences. Factors to keep in mind for hurricane preparations include wind, storm surge and freshwater flooding risks, Guy Carpenter said.