Projected Extreme Hurricane Season Threatens to Break Records

CLM environmental risk management expert weighs in

April 01, 2024 Photo

The year 2024 is set to be an extreme hurricane season with potential for broken records, according to a report by AccuWeather. The AccuWeather 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast calls for 20 to 25 named storms; eight to 12 of those storms are forecast to strengthen into hurricanes; and four to six storms could directly impact the U.S. Texas, the Florida Panhandle, South Florida, and the Carolinas face heightened risk. There is potential this season to break a record of 30 named storms in one season, the report states. 

“AccuWeather’s forecast calls for a dramatic shift from the 2023 Hurricane Season,” states the report. “Nineteen storms were named in the Atlantic basin, but only four had direct impacts in the [U.S.] last year.” According to lead hurricane forecaster at AccuWeather, Alex DaSilva, there are four driving forces contributing to the forecast for an extreme hurricane season: rising ocean temperatures in the Atlantic; “waters near the equator of the eastern Pacific in the process of changing from El Niño pattern to a La Niña pattern by mid or late summer”; a stronger African easterly jet stream, “which can boost the African monsoon” and lead to “more robust tropical waves later in the season, resulting in additional opportunities for tropical storms to form”; and “the Bermuda-Azores High can be offset farther south and east compared to the historical average, due to warmer sea-surface temperatures,” which can significantly influence the formation of tropical storms and hurricanes.

A Specialist’s View

Commenting on the forecast, CLM fellow David J. Dybdahl, CEO of ARMR Specialty Holdings, says, “There will be more severe weather because of global warming leading to hotter hots, colder colds, wetter wets, and dryer dries. From all indications, there will be ever increasingly severe weather events for the next century, and the recovery efforts from severe weather will be paid for through the private insurance mechanism. As long as insurance rates are allowed to free float to adapt to the increasing loss levels of property insurance due to increasing severe weather, the insurance business has a very positive outlook for profitable growth.”

Dybdahl continues, “The problem for insurance companies today is insurance commissioners approve insurance rates, [and] insurance rates are a political hot potato. Insurance rate regulation protocols look to the past losses to predict the losses of the future. Looking at past losses to predict the expected losses in the future have proven to be incapable of adjusting to the unprecedented fast changes in the climate. As a result, regulated insurance rates for property insurance have been inadequate to cover the losses.

“In the past two years there have been unprecedented poor results produced by the insurance companies that write rate regulated homeowners’ coverage. State Farm, the largest insurance [company], recently had its credit ratings downgraded due to poor loss results and it nonrenewing 70,000 homeowners’ policies in CA to avoid wildfire risks. Florida has even more pronounced problems with windstorm risks.

“The root cause [behind the insurance availability crisis in places like Florida and California] is Earth is getting warmer; it is not getting colder, and it is not staying the same. The observations of overall warming are from thermometers; thermometers are always objectively accurate and are not affected by politics.”

There is, however, political positioning on climate change, and “that gets in the way of rate adequacy for property insurance. The political debate has questioned if the climate was changing or if global warming was happening. Property insurance claims are a good indicator that the climate is changing.”

He adds, “The cause of climate change is still not certain, but objectively, the root cause of climate change is burning fossil fuels. When a fossil fuel is burned, it produces carbon dioxide in the air. In the 1890s, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison proved scientifically that increased levels of carbon dioxide in air produces a greenhouse warming effect…using thermometers.

“The human-caused increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are not going away in our lifetime, and neither are the insurance claims from increasing weather events. Insurance regulations need to adapt rate regulation protocols to adapt to rapid climate change or insurance companies risk insolvency,” Dybdahl concluded.

About The Authors
Angela Sabarese

Angela Sabarese, Associate Editor of CLM.

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