Insured wind losses from Hurricane Zeta for residential and commercial properties in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are estimated to cost between $2.2 billion and $3.5 billion, while insured storm surge losses could be an additional $300 million to $500 million, according to an analysis by property information and analytics provider CoreLogic.
The Category 2 hurricane made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana, before hitting New Orleans on Wednesday evening. At a sustained surface wind speed of 110 miles per hour, it fell just one mile per hour below a Category 3 intensity.
Following Hurricanes Laura and Delta, Zeta is the third hurricane in two months to make landfall in Louisiana. A patch of warm water temperatures and low wind shear that the storm passed through approaching Louisiana allowed it to gain strength, resulting in at least six deaths and hundreds of downed trees and power lines. A surge reached nine feet in the Bay of St. Louis, Mississippi.
“With one month to go, this hurricane season has been incredibly destructive due to the consistent cadence of storms and their too-similar landfall paths,” Curtis McDonald, meteorologist and senior product manager of CoreLogic, said in a statement. “While southwestern Louisiana was largely spared from Hurricane Zeta, New Orleans fell directly in the storm’s quick-moving path. The important thing right now is to restore power to the millions of homes in the southeastern states, continue damage repairs in previously impacted homes and prepare for what could be record-breaking hurricane activity in November.”
Louisiana bore the brunt of the storm by far, amassing at least $900 million more in residential and commercial losses than Mississippi, and at least $1.5 billion more in losses than Alabama (and possibly more in both states).
Hurricane Zeta extinguished power to millions of homes as it left Louisiana and moved across Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia on Wednesday night. By the time the storm reach just east of Asheville, North Carolina, on Thursday morning, it had weakened to a tropical storm. Most of the storm’s damage was attributed to wind and storm surge.
“Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and severity across the board,” Tom Larsen, principal of insurance solutions at CoreLogic, said in a statement. “Sophisticated catastrophe modeling estimates the impact of natural disasters with greater certainty, a key solution to addressing underinsurance issues and risk mitigation. It is imperative for mortgage lenders and insurance carriers to begin leveraging technology to better protect homeowners, accelerate local economic recovery and protect their business.”