RMS Revises Dennis Loss Estimate to $1B – $3B

Risk Management Solutions revised its insured U.S. loss estimate from $1 billion to $5 billion to $1 billion to $3 billion from Hurricane Dennis, reflecting observations of their field reconnaissance team and additional data points on the storm’s windfield.

The estimate includes insured losses from direct wind damage, inland rain and flooding, and pre-existing levels of damage surge (inflated repair costs) of at least 20 percent. RMS also continues to monitor damages in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico offshore platforms and expects insured losses in these regions to total less than $500 million.

The National Hurricane Center reported that Dennis was a category 3 storm at landfall with sustained winds of 120 mph and hurricane force winds extending up to 40 miles from the center. Onshore wind recordings of up to category 2 strength have been reported.

RMS recently funded technology improvements for the Florida Coastal Monitoring Program (FCMP), a joint venture to develop full-scale experimental methods to quantify near-surface hurricane wind behavior and resulting loads on residential structures. FCMP’s research program involves recording hurricane wind speeds using mobile collection towers.

These towers are placed strategically along the coast as a hurricane approaches in order to collect wind speed data at critical points, and provide valuable data points to supplement fixed anemometers which may miss regions of strongest winds. In past events, power failures have also served as a key constraint in obtaining reliable data from fixed towers. The RMS funding will equip the FCMP’s mobile units with satellite uplink hardware, allowing the units to relay data more reliably during a storm’s passage.

During Hurricane Dennis, three towers were moved into the landfall region, one of which provided the closest recorded wind speed to where Dennis’ maximum winds were experienced, a wind gust of 138.6 mph (116 mph sustained) at Navarre Beach. Other recordings of 95.7 mph (80 mph sustained) at Pensacola Airport and 80.7 mph (67 mph sustained) at Walton Regional Airport have successfully supplemented the existing meteorological stations and enabled RMS to improve its real-time windfield estimates.