Thursday, September 8, 2016

Everything is fine, until it isn’t.

Over a period of just 14 months in 2004 and 2005, no less than six hurricanes made landfall in Florida – basically back-to-back years of hurricanes coming at the rate of one per month during the height of hurricane season.  Then for the next 130 months, nothing happened.  For a long, long time, everything was fine, until it wasn’t – Hurricane Hermine broke Florida’s remarkable CAT-less streak, making landfall in the early morning hours of September 1, 2016.
Hermine made landfall as a Category 1 Hurricane, with reported wind speeds reaching 80 miles per hour.  Hermine was not in the same league as Andrew (1992) or Charley (2004), but a hurricane is a hurricane, and Hermine did its share of damage. (See our Guide to Adjusting Storm Related Claims in Florida here.)  But will Hermine prove to be just a brief event in the middle of a historic period of calm and quiet along the Florida coastline.  Or was it a harbinger of another wave of CATS headed for Florida and the rest of the U.S. mainland?  Time will tell, of course, but long range forecasters have identified 2016 as likely to be an active year for U.S. Hurricanes – the most active since 2012.  Might we see circumstances reminiscent of 2005 (15 Atlantic hurricanes, 7 of them major hurricanes, 12 separate landfall events, and massive property damage and loss of life)?  Or will this be more in line with 2013 (only two Atlantic hurricanes and no major hurricanes)? 
One thing we know for certain following Hermine is that this won’t be a repeat of 1914, when there were zero Atlantic hurricanes.  (Of course, a more devastating man-made “CAT” led the bad news that year, and for the next four years thereafter, proving that the only thing more destructive to us humans than mother nature, is us humans.)  Other things we know for certain are that Florida and the American Southeast are going to suffer through more hurricanes, including major hurricanes, and – eventually – more truly devastating events like Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Katrina.  It’s inevitable.  Everything is fine, until it isn’t.  

Posted by Dan Millea