Phil Klotzbach, Research Scientist at the Colorado State University, stopped by The AAIS Executive Roundtable with a preview of the upcoming hurricane season in The Florida Report.
Florida is certainly no stranger to hurricanes, Phil noted, ticking off just a few storms that have had devasting impacts in recently years including Hurricane Michael, a Category 5, in 2018. To put into context the soaring insured losses these storms are causing, he harked back to the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, which caused $80 million in damage back when it made landfall. At that time, however, Miami Dade County had only about 100,000 people. Today, the population is more like 2.7 million, and the same Category 4 hurricane that cost about $80 million a century ago, he estimates would cause more than $200 billion in damage today.
Upward trends in damage are expected to continue not only due to growth along the coastline but also the potential impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels combined with a warming atmosphere is a prescription for greater flooding and storm surge, and flood is already an outsize driver of losses.
CSU’s full initial hurricane forecast for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is to be set for released April 7, and Phil gave the audience a brief preview. The odds of El Nino seem quite low. The warmer than normal water that comes with El Nino also increases upper-level winds and helps weaken storms before landfall. Without that mitigating effect, and in light of ongoing population trends and climate change, Phil tamped down any anticipation for a mild season, but also spoke of the positives, including better building codes, better knowledge of storms, and improvements in forecasting and mitigation can all help lessen the impact of hurricanes going forward. Watch Phil’s full discussion here.