Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm along the Florida Panhandle coast at 1:25pm ET on Wednesday, battering the states of Florida, Alabama and Georgia with sustained wind speeds of up to 155mph, according to the latest data from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Michael developed with unprecedented speed and intensity, only gaining tropical storm status on Sunday, October 7 before growing into the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle since 1900.
At just 2mph short of a Category 5 hurricane, Michael is also the strongest hurricane to strike anywhere in Florida since Andrew in 1992.
Many regions of the states have been devastated as the storm caused widespread damage to buildings and cars, downed trees and left nearly 500,000 people without power, in addition to reports of several casualties.
Storm surge of up to 8 foot has also been reported in some areas, although flooding is not expected to be a large loss driver from Michael, as its speed means rainfall predictions remain low.
After lashing the Panhandle, Michael swept over into south Georgia as a Category 3 hurricane, the most powerful storm ever recorded for that region of the state, although it has now weakened to wind speeds of just 60mph.
Residents in North and South Carolina are currently bracing for the storm’s impact, with more heavy rain and storm-force winds forecast for areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence’s intense flooding last month.
It remains too early to say exactly what the extent of the damages from Michael will be, although insurers and reinsurers will continue to keep a close eye on the storm’s developments as more information emerges.
Combined with a number of other attritional catastrophes around the world in the second-half of this year, Hurricane Michael could have an impact on reinsurance rates at the upcoming renewals.