Web Site Estimates Hurricane Damages If Old Storms Returned Today

July 10, 2009

Today marks the four-year anniversary of Hurricane Dennis, a Category 3 storm that slammed into the panhandle of Florida with sustained winds of 120 m.p.h.

While Dennis inflicted more than $2.2 billion in damage in 2005 and was the first storm to make landfall in what was an historically active and destructive hurricane season, it was not the most damaging hurricane to make landfall in July, according to a new Web site that calculates the damage previous storms might inflict if they were to hit today.

On July 5, 1916 the “Middle Gulf Coast” hurricane made landfall near the Alabama/Mississippi border as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 120 m.p.h. The storm surge in Mobile, Alabama was measured at almost 12 feet, and water inundated the entire business district. If this storm were to strike in 2009 it would cause an estimated $13.8 billion in damage — more than five times that of Dennis — based on calculations from the ICAT Damage Estimator website. This amount of damage is comparable to Hurricane Frances ($11.8 billion) that struck Florida in 2004 or Hurricane Rita ($11.3 billion) that struck Texas and Louisiana in 2005.

This recently launched Web site at www.ICATDamageEstimator.com calculates changes from inflation, increased wealth, and increased population density to estimate damages as if previous storms made landfall in 2009. The site is interactive and map-based, and allows visitors to get an up-to-date understanding of storm damages based on current social trends.

The ICAT Damage Estimator website provides access to each of the 235 tropical storms and hurricanes that made landfall in the U.S. from 1900-2008, and answers the question: ‘How much damage would these storms cause if they made landfall today, in 2009?’

In addition to delivering information by storm name, year and category, the Web site also allows users to zoom in and select specific portions of the U.S. coastline to extract the historical record of storms making landfall in the selected region, and to calculate the current loss estimates of the identified storms.

According to ICAT, the Web site will also track all active storms during the 2009 hurricane season.

ICAT offers catastrophe insurance coverage to businesses throughout the U.S. and homeowners in Hawaii.

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