Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hurricane Watch: Two Simultaneous Cat 4s in the Atlantic for 2nd Time in [recorded] History

The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, mentioned below, is noteworthy in a few respects.
It's inflation adjusted damage of $140 billion exceeded #2 Katrina's $81 billion by almost 75%.

It put the nail in the coffin of the Great Florida Land Boom. In response to a post at Seeking Alpha, "The Coming Crash of 2008: A Result of Overleveraging" which stated:
"...As a collateral point, I must mention that economists widely regard the Florida real estate crash of 1927 to be a material factor in triggering the 1929 crash...."
I dropped a comment:
How many facts can you get wrong in 600 words?
Wirehouse margins were 10% not 5.
Glass-Steagall was enacted in 1933.
The Florida land boom peaked in 1925, by the time the Great Miami Hurricane hit in 1926 it was all over.
You underestimate financial leverage. It runs 25-35 x for investment banks, up to 100 x for LTCM.
Other than that...  
The funny thing is, the writer was right about both the coming crash and it's cause, it was only the facts that he got wrong.
Back in 1993 the South Florida Sun-Sentinel did a story entitled "1926 Miami: The blow that broke the boom" that began:
The 1926 storm was described by the U.S. Weather Bureau in Miami as "probably the most destructive hurricane ever to strike the United States." It hit Fort Lauderdale, Dania, Hollywood, Hallandale and Miami. The death toll is estimated to be from 325 to perhaps as many as 800. No storm in previous history had done as much property damage.
IT HAD NOT been a good year for South Florida. A wild real-estate boom had collapsed. Millionaires at the end of 1925 had become poor folks by the middle of 1926. Solid citizens skipped monthly payments and tax bills - and lost their homes. Businesses failed....MORE
Here's the headline story from WunderBlog:
...The only years more active this early in the season were 2005, 1995, 1936 and 1933. This morning's unexpected intensification of Hurricane Julia into a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds has set a new record--Julia is now the strongest hurricane on record so far east. When one considers that earlier this year, Hurricane Earl became the fourth strongest hurricane so far north, it appears that this year's record SSTs have significantly expanded the area over which major hurricanes can exist over the Atlantic. This morning is just the second time in recorded history that two simultaneous Category 4 or stronger storms have occurred in the Atlantic. 

The only other occurrence was on 06 UTC September 16, 1926, when the Great Miami Hurricane and Hurricane Four were both Category 4 storms for a six-hour period. The were also two years, 1999 and 1958, when we missed having two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes by six hours. Julia's ascension to Category 4 status makes it the 4th Category 4 storm of the year. Only two other seasons have had as many as five Category 4 or stronger storms (2005 and 1999), so 2010 ranks in 3rd place in this statistic. This year is also the earliest a fourth Category 4 or stronger storm has formed (though the fourth Category 4 of 1999, Hurricane Gert, formed just 3 hours later on today's date in 1999.) We've also had four Cat 4+ storms in just twenty days, which beats the previous record for shortest time span for four Cat 4+ storms to appear. The previous record was 1999, 24 days (thanks to Phil Klozbach of CSU for this stat.)

Figure 1. A rare double feature: two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, for only the second time in recorded history.

...Track forecast for Igor
The track forecast for Igor remains unchanged. Igor has made its long-anticipated turn to the west-northwest, in response to the steering influence of a broad trough of low pressure moving across the Western Atlantic. This trough will steer Igor several hundred miles to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles, and high waves should be the only impact of Igor on the islands. Igor appears likely to be a threat to Bermuda, and that island can expect tropical storm force winds as early as Saturday. Igor will be moving at about 12 - 15 mph as it approaches Bermuda. Tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph will probably extend out about 250 miles to the north of Igor on Saturday, so Bermuda can expect 18 hours of tropical storm force winds before the core of Igor makes its closest pass. In all, Bermuda is likely to experience a very long pounding of 24 - 36 hours with winds in excess of tropical storm force.

The models have been in substantial agreement over multiple runs that Igor will miss the U.S. East Coast, and the danger to the U.S. will probably only come in the form of high waves. Large swells from Igor have arrived in the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, and will spread westwards over the next few days, reaching the U.S. East Coast on Friday. By Saturday, much of the East Coast from northern Florida to Cape Cod Massachusetts can expect waves of 3 - 4 meters (10 - 13 feet), causing dangerous rip currents and significant beach erosion. These waves will continue through Sunday then gradually die down. The latest NOAA marine forecast for Cape Hatteras, North Carolina calls for 8 - 10 foot waves on Saturday, and 9 - 12 foot waves on Sunday.

Igor may pass very close to Newfoundland, Canada, but it is too early too assess the likelihood of this happening....MORE