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Report : 2010 had the Second Highest Number of Atlantic Hurricanes on Record

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The 2010 Atlantic Hurricane season, which officially ended on November 30, had the second highest number of hurricanes since records began in 1851, according to analysis by Risk Management Solutions (RMS). The season saw the formation of 12 hurricanes, five of which intensified to major hurricane status (category 3 to 5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale). Only 2005 had more events, with a total of 15 hurricanes. The year 1969 also had 12 hurricanes, tying 2010 for the second highest number in a single season.

The total number of named storms for the season reached 19, which is the third highest on record together with 1995 and 1887. The only seasons with more named storms were 2005 and 1933 at 27 and 21 respectively. The numbers of storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes are almost twice as high as the long-term averages since 1950 and higher than the averages since 1995, indicating that the Atlantic remains in a period of heightened hurricane activity.

Mexico was struck by two hurricanes — Karl, which reached category 3 and Alex, a category 2 storm — while Belize was hit by Hurricane Richard, a category 1. The U.S. experienced a tropical storm landfall, but was spared any hurricane landfalls. This was due, in part, to a specific pattern of steering currents that managed to keep the storms away from the U.S. during the peak months of August and September. It is unlikely that this represents a long-term change in the proportion of hurricanes that make landfall in the U.S. since the patterns vary from year to year.

“Only 1969 and 2005 have seen 12 or more hurricanes in the Atlantic and both of these years experienced U.S. hurricane landfalls,” said Neena Saith, director of catastrophe response at RMS. “While there have been other periods of high basin activity and a lack of U.S. landfalls, the 2010 season is unique in having had such a high number of hurricanes without any striking the U.S.”

Hurricane Earl, which formed in the Cape Verde Islands in August, skirted the U.S. east coast and Canada, bringing tropical storm winds. Had it tracked 20-30 miles to the west, as originally forecast, North Carolina and New England would have been exposed to hurricane-strength winds.

“The track that Earl was forecast to take looked remarkably similar to Hurricane Bob, which grazed the Mid-Atlantic states in 1991. Bob tracked approximately 35 miles from the North Carolina coastline as a category 3 hurricane prior to making landfall on Rhode Island as a category 2 hurricane,” said Ms. Saith. “RMS estimates that if Hurricane Bob reoccurred today, the insured damage from wind and storm surge would be around $1.6 billion.”

Storm damage

In total, RMS expects that total insured losses from the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season will be less than $500 million. Reports suggest that damage in Mexico from Hurricane Alex and Hurricane Karl reached around $7.5 billion, though only a minority of this is expected to be insured (Axco estimates that Alex caused around $200 million of insured damage). In Central America, Hurricane Richard is believed to have caused approximately $25 million of economic damage, according to unofficial reports.

PCS reported an insured loss of $120 million from Tropical Storm Hermine in Texas, which was primarily attributed to rain-induced flooding.

The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) – the risk pooling facility of 16 Caribbean governments – was triggered by two storms this year. It made a payment of just over $4 million to the Government of Anguilla in September from Hurricane Earl, and $12.8 million to the governments of Barbados, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines following Tropical Cyclone Tomas.

RMS will issue a comprehensive review of the 2010 hurricane season in a white paper in January 2011. A fully upgraded suite of hurricane models for the Atlantic basin will also be released by RMS early next year. New models will be introduced for the east coast of Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and Central America, including Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Source : RMS Press Release