The update to the forecast cone for Tropical Depression 9, which is expected to become Tropical Storm Hermine and then Hurricane Hermine, now depicts a scenario that no one in the insurance, reinsurance, catastrophe or ILS market wants to see, the main category of hurricane landfall to Florida.
Again, this far out forecast is fraught with uncertainty and lack of skill, but the NOAA forecast cone update just now means we’re seeing the first forecast cone showing a major Florida hurricane in several years.
Below you can see the cone showing the landfall of a major hurricane on the west coast of Florida ( view live tracking map here):
There is still some uncertainty as to whether Tropical Depression 9 will become a storm and then Hurricane Hermine or Ian, although most forecasts seem to suggest Hermine is the most likely option.
Below you can see the latest simulated intensity guidance for 98L (Hermine or Ian), also from TropicalTidbits.com:
Florida is now considered the most likely location for this storm as it has expanded and strengthened over the Caribbean.
At this point, there is still some divergence in the models and thus a relatively wide forecast cone, but the overall model consensus has now shifted toward a Florida solution.
How strong a hurricane this storm, Hermina or Ian, can become may have a lot to do with how much it affects the western region of Cuba.
Cuba’s mountainous western side may hinder a storm from forming, but it’s worth noting that we’ve also seen hurricanes easily cross Cuba without losing too much power along the way.
The latter appears to be the solution the models are now leaning toward: A still-strong hurricane, roughly a Category 2, is expected to exit the southern Gulf of Mexico and then rapidly strengthen as it approaches Florida, somewhere around Naples, Fort Myers, to the Sarasota coastline on the west peninsula.
This is a region with a lot of insurance exposure, so any major hurricane that makes landfall could certainly be a double-digit billion dollar loss event with significant implications for the insurance, reinsurance and ILS community.
But we are still a long way from having any certainty in the forecast, and this storm could take a different direction, be weakened by Cuba, not strengthen as much as the models expect, or face more wind shear than expected, all of which could change direction. force and ultimately a landfall scenario.
A lot can change between now and next Wednesday.
However, it bears repeating that this is the first forecast cone to show a major hurricane in Florida in a while, so it’s definitely worth taking seriously.
While we know there are live cat rumors in the market (there always are), it’s never news that can be quoted for a certain defense.
What’s always more surprising is that anyone can afford to buy one, or has the motivation to buy one, and now it seems too soon.
However, as the weekend approaches, a common conundrum arises: Monday may be too late to buy a live cat container. With more certainty in the outcome, which we’re likely to see after the weekend, either the need for protection dissipates or the price rises to a level that makes it all but impossible to purchase this kind of coverage.
As a result, it shouldn’t be surprising if there is lively chatter about trading cats in the market, but it will be surprising if anyone actually closes any deals.
At this point, NOAA estimates that the earliest tropical storm force winds could arrive in Florida on Monday, although that could be later if Cuba is engulfed by this storm (Hermina, Ian, or whatever Tropical Depression 9 eventually names).
Track 2022 Atlantic Tropical Storm and Hurricane Season on our dedicated page and we will keep you updated as new information becomes available.