Hurricane Irma Could Be a $250 Billion Storm According to New Estimates

Sep 07, 2017

Hurricane Irma is still several days away from landfall in the U.S., but insurance companies are crunching the numbers to predict the economic impact of the storm—and the results aren't encouraging.

Credit Suisse, in a note, said that historical models indicate Irma could bring $125 billion in damages—or even double that if it hits Miami as a Category 5 hurricane. That's significantly higher than damage estimates for Hurricane Harvey, which shot to the top of the most expensive hurricane list when it hit Houston less than two weeks ago, with an estimated $180 billion in damages.

The estimate does not take into account lost revenue from factors like lost tourism, either. Or what might happen should Hurricane Jose, now churning in the Atlantic, follows a similar path to Irma.

The bright side, if there is one with a storm that's this monstrous, is that the totals could be considerably lower if Irma loses steam or avoids a direct hit on the Southeast. And the storm path is still anything but certain.

Bill Karins, an NBC meteorologist, notes the differences between the Global Forecast System's model and the European Medium Range Forecast model. One shows damage on par with a Category 1 storm, while the other predicts potential devastation.

Fifty miles can make a tremendous difference when it comes to damages - and the cone of uncertainty around Irma is still hundreds of miles wide.

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