Authorities in Florida are still assessing the toll of Hurricane Michael, both in terms of human casualties and structural damage. But government officials says early estimates indicate this will be the 12th weather disaster this year to top $1 billion in damages—and it should top that number handily.
Losses from Michael could top $4.5 billion, according to forecasting service CoreLogic. Approximately $1.5 billion to $3 billion of that will be in residential losses, with another $500 million to $1 billion in commercial losses.
In the days before the storm hit, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier estimated that roughly 500,000 policyholders would be impacted.
Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon as a strong Category 4 with 155 mph winds near Mexico Beach, Florida. The fast moving storm ripped roofs from structures and has claimed two lives so far. As of 8 a.m. ET Thursday, it was a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and was centered across central South Carolina. Forecasters say they don’t expect it to lose much strength today as it continues to work its way up the coast.
As bad as Hurricane Michael was, it’s unlikely to rack up damages that equal those of Hurricane Florence. While there are no totals from that storm yet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says damages from Florence are expected to exceed those of Hurricanes Matthew ($10.6 billion in 2016) and Floyd ($9.9 billion in 1999).