Twenty miles may have made a $150 billion difference.
Estimates for the damage Hurricane Irma would inflict on Florida kept mounting as it made its devastating sweep across the Caribbean. It was poised to be the costliest U.S. storm on record. Then something called the Bermuda High intervened and tripped it up.
“We got very lucky,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If Irma had passed 20 miles west of Marco Island instead of striking it on Sunday, “the damage would have been astronomical.” A track like that would have placed the powerful, eastern eye wall of Irma on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Since my mom lives in the Tampa / St Pete area, I was locked in on this event. If the storm had kept going West and gathered up some more energy and hit Tampa / St Pete the damage would have been huge. Instead it hits Marco Island ( a place I've stayed at before ), disconnected from its energy source ( the Bay of Florida ) and dissipated its energy over Central Florida.
The article seems to want to focus on how the forecasts weren't accurate:
For 10 days, computer-forecast models had struggled with how the high was going to push Irma around and when it was going to stop, said Peter Sousounis, director of meteorology at AIR Worldwide. “I have never watched a forecast more carefully than Irma. I was very surprised not by how one model was going back and forth -- but by how all the models were going back and forth.”
And some interesting info on how we really could be facing very costly storms in the future:
Simulations based on the paths and powers of some that rammed the U.S. 100 or more years ago show they were far more disastrous, or would be if they arrived today when the population is much more dense and there is far more, and far more expensive, property to destroy.
One hurricane that raked the U.S. East Coast in 1893 was so furious the impact could have added up to $1 trillion. “They haven’t really happened in our modern economy,” Watson said, adding it’s only a matter of time. “We have so much stuff and so much infrastructure. Leave all the arguments about climate change aside; we are rapidly moving into that era where we are going to be seeing $50 billion, $100 billion storms, and I will not be surprised when we get to $300 billion.”
It must be an interesting time to be in the insurance game.