I found myself reading and losing sleep over the latest page turner report by Swiss Re looking at the mega disaster of all times. A 100 billion (US dollar) hurricane event that hits the East Coast. Now of course reinsurance companies job is to dig deeply into what could happen. They have been discussing, researching and writing about climate change for over twenty years. Why? It is all about money.
The recent report on this $100B event is worth the read…even if you don’t have any offices in the East. This would affect all of us.
Nearly 200 years ago, a powerful hurricane decimated the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast United States. Packing wind gusts of over 156 miles per hour, the Norfolk Long Island Hurricane of 1821 surged up the Eastern Seaboard creating chaos and wreaking havoc from the Outer Banks of North Carolina all the way up to the Boston metropolitan area. If this hurricane was measured by today’s standards, it would be a strong Category 4 storm — unlike anything the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast have recently seen or experienced.
In comparison, Hurricane Sandy, with its unique track, 1,000-mile-wide wind field, and low central pressure, pushed record-breaking storm surge into the New York and New Jersey coasts, destroying businesses, homes, and lives in a short 24-hour period. But for all the devastation and damage that Hurricane Sandy brought, its intensity at landfall, measured by 1-minute maximum sustained winds, was equivalent to a weak Category 1 hurricane. Other events in recent years (Irene, Isabel, Gloria, and Bob), while significant, weakened prior to landfall, coming onshore as either Category 1 or Category 2 hurricanes, and not the major hurricanes originally anticipated and feared.
At the time, the combined population of New York City and Washington, DC was 136,000 people. If the 1821 Hurricane were to happen today, it would cause 50% more damage than Sandy and potentially cause more than $100 billion in property losses stemming from storm surge and wind damage.
Care to loose a bit of sleep? Then download the report and read on…