Hurricane Michael
10/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
Type of postingPosting date:time ESTSummaryScenariosDownloads
Post Landfall 110/16/2018 1:00:00 PM 
Landfall 10/11/2018 9:45:00 AM 
Pre-Landfall 310/10/2018 10:30:00 AM 
Pre-Landfall 210/9/2018 10:45:00 AM 
Pre-Landfall 110/8/2018 12:15:00 PM 
Posting Date: 10/16/2018 1:00:00 PM

AIR estimates that industry insured losses resulting from Hurricane Michael’s winds and storm surge will range from USD 6 billion to USD 10 billion. 

ALERT™ subscribers can now download Touchstone®, CATRADER®, and Touchstone Re event sets, loss-based SSEs, and wind and surge shapefiles of the median event for Hurricane Michael from the Downloads tab. The SSEs should be used only for exposures in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Included in the estimates are onshore residential, commercial, and industrial properties and their contents, automobiles, and time element coverage (additional living expenses for residential properties and business interruption for commercial properties). See below for additional information:

AIR’s modeled insured loss estimates include:

  • Insured physical damage to property (residential, commercial, industrial, auto), both structures and their contents  from winds, wind-borne debris and storm surge
  • Additional living expenses (ALE) for residential claims and business interruption losses for commercial claims
  • A 5% leakage is assumed to estimate the amount of damage/losses caused by storm surge attributed to wind for residential lines
  • For the automobile line, estimates reflect AIR’s view that insurers will pay for the storm surge damage

AIR’s modeled insured loss estimates do not include:

  • Precipitation-induced flooding
  • Losses paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program
  • Losses to inland marine, marine cargo and hull, and pleasure boats
  • Losses to uninsured properties
  • Losses to infrastructure
  • Losses from extra-contractual obligations
  • Losses from hazardous waste cleanup, vandalism, or civil commotion, whether directly or indirectly caused by the event
  • Losses resulting from the compromise of existing defenses (e.g., natural and man-made levees)
  • Other non-modeled losses, including those resulting from tornadoes spawned by the storm
  • Losses for U.S. offshore assets and non-U.S. property

Hurricane Michael Recap

Fueled by unseasonably high 84-degree sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and unhindered by any prior landfall, Hurricane Michael rapidly intensified shortly before making landfall at close to Category 5 intensity. It struck near Mexico Beach in the Florida Panhandle on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 10, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (250 km/h). The minimum central pressure at landfall—a key measure of hurricane strength—was 919 mb, the third lowest on record for a U.S. hurricane. Michael is the most powerful hurricane to have come ashore in the Florida Panhandle since the first records were kept in 1851. (To learn more, read “Why Hurricane Michael’s Landfall Is Historic.”)


At landfall hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center of the system and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 175 miles (280 km). Hurricane Michael moved quickly, with a forward speed of 14 mph just prior to landfall accelerating to 23 mph (37 km/h) by midday Thursday. It lost strength as it progressed across the Florida Panhandle and into southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia, weakening to a tropical storm. As the storm continued into the Carolinas, it began to interact with a frontal boundary approaching from the northwest, and completed its extratropical transition by the time it emerged over the Atlantic off southeastern Virginia.

Most wind damage was confined to the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia, although some local wind-related damage such as downed trees and power lines occurred farther north along the track into the Carolinas (see “Reported Damage and Distruption” section for more). Since Michael was a fairly rapidly moving storm, precipitation accumulation was far less than for Florence, although some of the areas previously flooded by Florence were already saturated. Forecasts of around 4 to 8 inches of rain along the track through the southeastern U.S. were accurate, and these rains triggered some local flash flooding.

Storm Surge

While there are no depth measurements in Mexico Beach currently available, this community was in the right eyewall of Michael where storm surge is typically the highest. Catastrophic storm surge damage in Mexico Beach virtually obliterated this community. Video taken during Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach shows surge that reached the undersides of the rooflines. Given that typical ceiling height is 8 to 9 feet, it is safe to assume that surge reached at least 8 feet above ground and potentially more than 10 feet. In addition, a National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola reported around 8.5 feet of surge above mean sea level shortly after landfall.

Reported Damage and Disruption

President Trump approved a disaster declaration in Florida and an emergency declaration for 108 counties (of 152) in Georgia. Georgia has the second highest number of counties in the U.S., after Texas. Airlines canceled or delayed flights in the storm’s path and surrounding areas and Amtrak rail services in the region were adjusted. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10 was closed on October 11, but re-opened in both directions. Many state roads and bridges closed pending inspection. At Tyndall Air Force Base, which is west of Mexico Beach, all non-essential personnel had been ordered to evacuate, and aircraft were flown to safety in Ohio and Texas as a precaution. The base, where a wind gust of 129 mph was measured, is home to the 325th Fighter Wing. The base saw significant damage to structures, aircraft, and vehicles, including an aircraft hangar that lost its entire roof, revealing damaged figher jets inside; an F-15 fighter jet torn from its foundation and thrown onto its back among the debris; and overturned trucks.

In advance of the storm more than 375,000 people were ordered to evacuate up and down the Gulf Coast, but hundreds in Michael’s path defied the mandatory evacuation order. At least 18 lives are known to have been lost as a direct result of Michael, and many people are unaccounted for. More fatalities are expected to be reported as rescue workers search through debris. Hospitals and nursing homes in the area were also heavily damaged.


The residential community of Mexico Beach suffered the brunt of Michael’s fury and the majority of structures in that town were destroyed, primarily by storm surge. While Mexico Beach’s year-round population is 2,000, it is a popular tourist destination for sports-fishing, which increases the population as much as sevenfold in the month of July. Panama City—and the surrounding areas of Lynn Haven and Callaway, which are located approximately 20 miles to the west of Mexico Beach—was also hit hard by Hurricane Michael. Damage to single-family and manufactured homes ranged from minor roof damage to complete destruction. Heavy damage was also reported for small commercial structures, hotels, hospitals, and schools. Jinks Middle School had major roof damage and exterior wall failure to the school gymnasium. Bay Medical Sacred Heart suffered blown out windows and exterior wall and roof damage. The Panama City Marina area suffered heavy damage as piers were broken and boats tossed into each other. Based on initial damage reports, Panama City Beach, which is located right on the Gulf, seemed to fare slightly better than the more inland Panama City; however, heavy damage was also reported in Panama City Beach. Significant damage was reported to a boat storage building at Pirates Cove Marina on the eastern side of Panama City Beach, and a beachfront high-rise hotel and condo buildings showed significant roof and cladding damage. Storm surge flooded Thomas Drive near the coast. Farther west few initial reports of damage were released, as most of the reporting focused on the heavy damage experienced in Mexico Beach and Panama City. Port St. Joe, to the east of Mexico Beach, saw significant damage to residential and small commercial buildings.  Several buildings’ roofs collapsed and debris littered the streets. At the marina there was significant damage to boats located both in the water at the port and stored in a warehouse, which was severely damaged by Michaels’s high winds. Apalachicola and St. George Island, both to the east of the landfall point, were located farther from the areas of highest winds. Therefore these areas didn’t necessarily experience the level of destruction Mexico Beach and Panama City did; however, they still saw significant roof and siding damage, especially to residential structures. Farther inland, the City of Tallahassee, the state capital, reported a number of trees down, but the majority of the trees fell in yards or on roads with relatively few reports of structural damage caused by tree fall. Nearly 100% of the City of Tallahassee, was without power, but it was expected to be restored by Monday, October 15. Hundreds of thousands of utility customers in Florida, including many counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area were at 97% loss of power or worse. Restoration in some locations was predicted to take weeks, according to

(To learn about Florida’s building codes, exposure at risk, and building performance, please read What to Expect of Building Performance During Hurricane Michael.”)


Initial reports indicate little significant structural damage in Georgia. The majority of these reports were from the City of Albany, in southwestern Georgia. Reports included roof damage to small commercial structures in strip malls.  Several storefronts with windows broken, most likely due to wind-borne debris, and associated content damage. Byne Memorial Baptist Church had missing shingles and underlayment, but appeared to have no significant structural damage. Single-family homes were also reported to have roof damage, and downed trees were reported in neighborhoods, although most reports did not indicate much structural damage due to downed trees. The Albany Transit System was not fully operational because of blocked roadways. Nearly half of utility customers were without power, and a precautionary boil water notice was issued, which was expected to be removed on Monday, October 15. Telecommunications were still down for 100 commercial and 140 residential customers. Elsewhere in the state, very little structural damage was reported. The majority of reports were for downed trees, though again very few reports indicated structural damage caused by tree fall. Hundreds of thousands of utility customers in Georgia were reported to be without power after the storm hit. Restoration could be difficult in some areas.

Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia

The majority of initial reports coming from Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia indicated downed trees in roadways but very little structural damage. Tens of thousands in Alabama and South Carolina lost power during the storm.

ALERT™ subscribers can now download Touchstone®, CATRADER®, and Touchstone Re event sets, loss-based SSEs, and wind and surge shapefiles of the median event for Hurricane Michael from the Downloads tab. The SSEs should be used only for exposures in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.




Hurricane Michael
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