Dorian batters Bahamas as US remains on alert

Published in: Risk, Cat risk, Environment, US - Canada - Bermuda, ROW, USA focus

Companies: National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Dorian has made landfall as a category 5 hurricane in the Bahamas causing severe destruction in the islands, tearing roofs from buildings and triggering severe flooding.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) revealed Dorian made landfall on the Great Abaco Island on 1 September, with wind gusts of up to 225mph, and on the Grand Bahama Island the following day at the same intensity.

Latest updates show Dorian is heading westward bringing winds of up to 200mph and tide levels of between 18 and 23ft above normal levels.

Local reports say an eight-year old boy in the Great Abaco Island was killed in the storm.

Dorian is now officially the second strongest Atlantic hurricane on record behind 1980's hurricane Allen and is the strongest hurricane to ever affect the Bahamas.

The NHC warned this is a "life-threatening situation" and hazards will continue over Grand Bahama Island causing "extreme destruction".

Grand Bahama Island lies only 60 miles east of Florida's West Palm Beach.

Florida, along with Georgia, North and South Carolina have all declared states of emergency.

The latest hurricane forecasts show Dorian most likely to skirt the Florida coastline and possibly make landfall in the Carolinas.

However, catastrophe risk modelling firm RMS noted Dorian's expected forward speed through the Bahamas had been much slower than anticipated, leading to speculation it may miss the US mainland entirely.

RMS modelled the losses from several historical storms to hit Florida, in present-day exposures. They range from $2.8bn, resulting from 1964's hurricane Dora, to $37.2bn, resulting from 1871's hurricane Three.

Analysis from investment bank Keefe, Bruyette and Woods last week warned Dorian would drive "sizeable losses" if it hit Florida and reinsurers would be the most seriously affected.

Paul Walsh