AIR Worldwide and KCC Project Hurricane Sally Insured Losses From $1 to $3 Billion

September 21, 2020

Catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimates that industry insured losses to onshore property resulting from Hurricane Sally’s winds, storm surge, and inland flood will range from $1 billion to $3 billion, with wind representing the majority of the losses. AIR Worldwide is a Verisk business.

Karen Clark & Co on Monday estimated that Sally caused $2 billion in insured losses, not including losses insured through the National Flood Insurance Program. KCC said severe wind damage was limited to areas near the coast that experienced the highest wind speeds. Isolated instances of structural damage occurred, including damage to roofs and walls. Lower levels of damage, such as to roof covering and siding, were more widespread. Over 500,000 residents were left without power as severe winds brought down power lines in parts of Florida and Alabama.

Lisa Miller and Associates, an insurance industry government relations consulting firm, offered a bird’s-eye view of damages in the Pensacola area in a blog post with drone video taken by Complete Inc., a catastrophe claims appraisal and arbitration services firm. According to the blog, barges anchored in Pensacola Bay wreaked havoc on coastal structures. One barge struck the Pensacola Bay Bridge, causing a portion of the south-bound lane to collapse. Miller said another barge wiped out the 18th hole of a golf course.

According to AIR, Sally made a late shift eastward after meandering across the Gulf and rapidly intensified to a Category 2 hurricane before making landfall at 4:45 a.m. CDT on Sept.16 near Gulf Shores, Alabama, just west of the Florida border, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 965 mb. Sally quickly diminished after landfall as it crept northeast at around 3 mph, bringing wind gusts over 100 mph, storm surge of around 6-7 feet above NAVD88 in coastal communities of Baldwin County, Alabama, and Escambia County, Florida (including Pensacola), and rainfall of up to 30 inches in Orange Beach, Alabama, and 24.8 inches in downtown Pensacola, Florida. Heavy rainfall was largely confined to a relatively smaller area covering the Florida Panhandle west of Tallahassee and southeastern Alabama.

According to AIR, although wind speeds diminished rapidly after landfall, Sally buffeted cities and towns for hours as it moved north-northeast across Alabama at speeds as slow as 2 mph. Coastal areas between Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, lingered in the northern eyewall for hours. Tropical storm–force winds continued through the afternoon of the 16th across southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.

Along its track, Sally caused mostly minor roof damage, broken windows, downed trees, toppled church steeples and appurtenant structures such as gas station canopies, and some isolated major structural failures, and damaged infrastructure in Alabama and Florida. At its height, power outage extended to nearly half a million customers—most of them in Alabama and Florida.

Areas of notable storm surge inundation include Orange Beach and Dauphin Island, Alabama, and other coastal communities of Baldwin County. Areas of notable inland flooding include downtown Pensacola, which received 24.8 inches of rain from Sally. Flooding in coastal communities in Baldwin County and the Florida Panhandle was largely caused by hurricane-induced precipitation.

Included in AIR’s estimates are losses to onshore residential, commercial, and industrial properties and automobiles for their building, contents, and time element coverage.

Source: AIR Worldwide, KCC

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