The Texas’ coast good fortune continues in 2013 although it may now be coming at the expense of our neighbors to the east. Tropical Storm Karen is now headed for landfall, possibly as a tropical storm and possibly as a non-major hurricane, between New Orleans and the Florida panhandle. Although any tropical storm or hurricane can cause significant property damage, wind shear and drier air are apparently likely to prevent Karen from becoming another Katrina and causing enormous insured losses.
Tropical Storm Ingrid took shape today in the Gulf of Mexico, but if forecasters are correct, it should not pose a major wind danger to Texas or the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. The GFS ensemble, shown here, all shows landfall in Mexico. So too do the other major hurricane models. Of equal importance, the SHIPs intensity model, which attempts the dark art of windspeed prediction, does not show Ingrid getting much above its current 50 knot tropical storm intensity. So, although I have raised alarm bells for some time about the resilience of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to a significant storm, Ingrid does not look like the one that will test the largest insurer along the Texas coast or, for that matter, other insurers.
Of course, weather forecasters haven’t been having the best year making predictions. If Ingrid takes a more northerly track, all bets are off.
Gone. Fizzled. Wind shear. Have a great weekend, everyone.
Good news. The 8 p.m. runs are done and they show growing agreement on what the future holds for Invest 92L. It looks like Houston and the northern coast of Texas are unlikely to be hit. From an insurance perspective, this is important because this is where most of TWIA’s exposure is situated. Landfall of something ranging from a tropical depression to a high end tropical storm is more likely closer to the Texas-Mexico border. None of the forecasts I have studied are indicating any sort of major hurricane or event that should cause major wind damage. Indeed, the probability of this thing ever becoming getting the “Fernand” name are now down to 50%.
The HWRF model points to a a strong tropical storm or category 1 hurricane hitting the Brownsville/Matamoros area on Monday. The GFDL model shows a weak tropical storm hitting a lightly populated area south of Corpus Christi late Monday night. The LBAR model shows something — for some reason the wind speed data is gone — hitting around Port Aransas and Rockport but sooner that the other models suggest, perhaps late Sunday night or early Monday morning. The NAM model shows a hit on Corpus Christi but a storm not even windy enough to be a tropical storm.
Now, all of this could change. And the Brownsville/Harlingen area needs to stay on alert. But I don’t think anyone needs to be making runs to Home Depot for plywood tonight.
The 2 p.m. Computer Model Hurricane Forecasts are in and virtually all of them show what is now “Invest 92L” but what may become “Fernand” hitting the Texas coast in the next few days. One of the projections (GFDL) shows it hitting Corpus Christi. Another model (LBAR) shows it hitting the most populated part of the Texas Coast around Galveston. It’s too early to say whether Invest 92L will develop into a tropical cyclone — forecasters have been giving it about an 60% chance of doing so — or, if it does, how it will intensify over the world’s largest bathtub, the the Gulf of Mexico, but it would not be a bad time for those at risk from tropical storms, particularly those who have windstorm insurance provided by the undercapitalized (negative surplus) Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, to start thinking about preparations.
The best information I’ve seen on intensity comes from http://wx.hamweather.com/tropical/2013/atlantic/invest92L/modelsmap_zoom2.html. They’ve got three forecasts that show intensity. The GFS model predicts a very weak depression hitting Corpus Christi on Tuesday, nothing to be concerned about. The HWRF model, a newer but possibly less reliable version of GFS, shows a category 1 Hurricane Fernand going into Mexico. The GFDL model shows a tropical storm Fernand meandering into Corpus Christi on Tuesday. There is no intensity information that I can find for the LBAR model that implicates the highly populated Galveston/Matagorda area, backed up by the Houston megalopolis.
So, no, Katy need not evacuate yet — nor need anyone else. There isn’t enough to go on yet. This is not the long-track hurricane like Ike or Rita that has been more common recently along the Texas coast and that has, at the end, been a bit easier to predict. This “thing” is a little closer to what became Hurricane Alicia in 1972. It began life in a similar area but intensified rapidly as it made a fairly quick path towards the Texas coast. On the other hand, there are certainly lots of “things” out in the Gulf that have looked life 92L but have fizzled or gone places other than Texas. Catrisk will keep you posted.
So, the season’s first tropical cyclone has formed, Andrea. Fortunately for Texas, the computer models appear in agreement that this one is heading to poor old Florida. And a good thing too for Texas. Because, while Governor Perry considers whether to add windstorm reform to the agenda for a special session of the Texas legislature and its members possibly see if they could get close enough to an agreement to make such a session fruitful, Mother Nature is not waiting. So, could we treat Andrea as a shot over the bow? This year’s tropical storm season has gotten off a bright and early start.