RMS Revises Hurricane Charley’s Insured Loss Estimate to Around $5 Billion

August 16, 2004

It may be small comfort to the beleaguered Floridians who are trying to pick up their lives after Charley’s deadly passage Friday afternoon (See lead article), but the violent storm actually caused less damage than had been feared.

California-based Risk Management Solutions, a leading provider of products and services for the management of catastrophe risk, said it had “revised its loss estimate for Hurricane Charley to reflect a decrease in the storm’s breadth and intensity after landfall on Friday.

“Updated analyses of the storm’s structure indicate that the hurricane’s windfield was more compact than expected and that the storm’s intensity decreased more rapidly than forecast. Based on these changes, RMS has revised its previous estimate of $10 to 15 billion [see previous article]; losses are now expected to be near $5 billion.”

RMS said it would issue further revisions to its loss estimates today “after the windfield and damages have been verified through field surveys.” It also noted that “radar and infrared imagery suggest that the storm’s radius to maximum wind was less than 6 miles at landfall, substantially smaller than what is expected for a Category 4 hurricane.”

RMS meteorologist Kyle Beatty commented: “On average, a hurricane’s strongest winds would be located 20 to 25 miles away from its center, but this can vary significantly between storms and even during the evolution of a single storm system. Wind speed observations indicate that Charley’s swath of damaging winds narrowed abruptly just before landfall.”

RMS compared Charley, which is estimated to have had a radius of maximum wind of only 6 miles with the category 3 hurricane that struck the same area in 1944. That storm is estimated to have had a radius of maximum wind of 33 miles, and its larger size would have generated approximately $10 billion in insured losses.

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