As Atlantic hurricane season officially begins this week, Rein4ce Director Sarah Hills recalls the first time she was caught in the middle of one of these mighty storms. Hurricanes are a big part of the reinsurance industry, but she is reminded that at the end of the day, it’s the human suffering that really matters.
As an insurance and reinsurance-focused PR agency, the topic of hurricanes and other natural disasters is never far from the minds of our clients.
It’s easy to talk about these terrifying catastrophes dealing in facts and figures: How many will there be? What will be the insured losses? How will this affect premiums next year?
But it’s not until you witness Mother Nature at her destructive worst that you really appreciate the terror they can wreak on people and communities.
The eye of the storm
It was my first experience of a hurricane, and I didn’t know what to expect. The wind took my breath away before I sought shelter in a ‘hurricane party’ in the basement of one of the hotels. The following day I wandered through the streets of the capital Hamilton, shocked by the damage wrought by the 120 mph winds – palm trees and power lines wrecked, boats sunk and debris everywhere.
An island’s resilience
The hurricane put out the power in most of the island but only 12 hours later Bermuda was open for business. I was impressed by the island’s resilience – easy to see why it’s the reinsurance capital of the world and a top-class business hub.
This week, Bermuda and its neighbours will be braced for more stormy weather. Every year, various forecasters predict how many hurricanes there will be – as well as their ferocity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting another active Atlantic hurricane season in 2021.
Stormy weather on its way
Their climate prediction centre forecasts a busier than average season, but not the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020’s record-breaking season, which had 30 hurricanes, and which exhausted the list of storm names for the first time since the 1950s.
There was an early start to hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, with subtropical storm Ana formed off the coast of Bermuda on May 22 with 45 mph winds.
For the rest of this season, NOAA scientists predict between 13 and 20 named storms of winds higher than 39 mph. Six to ten of these could become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher, including three to four major hurricanes in categories three, four or five, with winds of 111 mph or higher.
As this year’s hurricane season gets underway, my thoughts are with those people who could be weathering these mighty storms, and I fervently hope for a relatively benign few months ahead.