RMS: Katrina Losses Initially Estimated at $1B-$2B

Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a provider of products and services for the management of catastrophe risk, said that insured losses from Hurricane Katrina’s first landfall in the U.S. are likely to range from $1 to $2 billion, based on current information on landfall location and wind speeds. Additional losses are expected from Katrina’s second landfall, which is forecast to occur on Monday, August 29.

Hurricane Katrina intensified to hurricane strength just before making landfall in the densely populated area of southeastern Florida. Katrina came on shore between Hallandale Beach and North Miami Beach, near the Miami-Dade- Broward county line at approximately 7 p.m. EDT, on Aug. 25. Maximum sustained wind speeds were estimated at 80 mph at landfall by the National Hurricane Center.

Category 1 storms have maximum sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph, which usually cause only minimal damage to structures, but can create concerns for flooding. However, significant flooding has not materialized despite Katrina’s relatively slow movement across the state. Localized total rainfall of up to 12-14 inches was experienced in southern Florida, with a wider swath of 8 inches across Miami-Dade. Counties further north received 5 inches or less. These are high, but not excessive amounts, and preparations were made in advance of the storm to lower water storage levels.

Katrina moved across southern Florida overnight, and emerged over the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Friday morning local time. The storm is forecast to turn up toward the northern Gulf of Mexico and head into northwest Florida. Conditions are favorable for significant intensification while the storm travels over the Gulf.

Depending on Katrina’s second landfall location and intensity, total insured losses from the storm could increase significantly.