Hurricane season is here and more than $10T worth of property is at risk

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects an 85% probability of an above-average hurricane season in 2024, with damage likely to eclipse the relatively mild 2023 that saw only one hurricane of note — Idalia — make landfall in the U.S. and cause over $2 billion worth of insured damage.

In a new study, CoreLogic estimated the number of single- and multifamily residential properties across the U.S. Gulf and East coasts vulnerable to hurricane wind and storm surge flooding.

It’s an alarming number: from Texas to Maine, more than 32.7 million residential properties are at risk of moderate or severe damage from hurricane-force winds alone, at a combined potential reconstruction cost (RCV) of $10.8 trillion, according to CoreLogic data scientists.

The CoreLogic hurricane wind and coastal storm surge risk scores quantifies the hazard of wind and storm surge risk, respectively, of every parcel in the U.S. The report released Thursday focuses on the Eastern seaboard and the metropolitan areas of New York, Miami and Houston. Let’s dive in.

Hurricane wind

Table 1 shows the number and total reconstruction cost value of homes exposed to increasing hurricane and wind risk level in 2024.

Approximately 7.7 million of the above properties, with a combined RCV of $2.3 trillion, also have direct or indirect coastal exposure, which makes them susceptible to storm surge flooding.

Flood risk

The following table shows the number of homes at risk by hurricane category indicating the relative risk due to storm surge. The values are cumulative, where a less severe hurricane (Category 1) would likely impact only homes with the greatest risk (such as in low-lying areas close to the coast). A stronger hurricane (i.e., Category 2 – 5) would inundate homes with the greatest risk, plus any additional properties with lower degrees of risk. The most severe hurricanes would create at least some storm surge risk for all homes.

Houston (and Miami and New York): we have a problem

Climate change is causing sea level to rise and exposing communities to more regular and severe storm surge flooding. The region with the highest probability of a hurricane making landfall in the U.S. is Southeastern Florida, home to Miami-Dade County, followed by Harris and Manhattan counties, CoreLogic said. And areas with high population density, low-lying coastal areas and a history of major hurricanes are much more vulnerable to hurricane damage, CoreLogic said in its report, which puts Miami, Houston and New York City in the crosshairs.

Miami is regularly hit with hurricanes and tropical storms. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed more than 25,000 homes and damaged an additional 100,000 in South Florida. According to the NOAA, there have been 48 hurricanes within 60 nautical miles of the Miami-Dade County boundary since 1900.

There have been 28 and 9 hurricanes within 60 nautical miles of Harris and Manhattan counties, respectively. This figure does not include notably destructive storms like Superstorm Sandy, which was classified as an extratropical storm by landfall, but caused massive flooding and wiped out critical infrastructure.

Houston has encountered a series of significant hurricane-related challenges, including Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which led to devastating flooding in the area.

HUR2024_metro

CoreLogic also ran wind resiliency modeling in South Florida and found that Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties had scores of 47, 45, and 35 respectively, meaning moderate low to moderate levels of resiliency.

The lowest resiliency was found in Charlotte County, with a score of 56 in the low category, and the highest resiliency was found in Hillsborough County (the Tampa-St. Petersburg) metro region, with a score of 13 in the high category.

Insurance challenges

Climate changes and the growing risk of hurricanes, convective storms, floods and wildfires are pushing insurance companies to drop coverage in large areas across the United States and also hike premiums.

The average cost of insuring a $300,000 property surged by 12% in 2023, reaching $1,770 per year, according to a recent Insurify report. In areas of California and Florida, the only home insurance options for homeowners are state-backed insurers of last resort, which are undercapitalized relative to the risk.

The average flood insurance premium will eventually be over $7,000 a year in Miami-Dade and that still may not be enough. According to CoreLogic data, annual estimated loss projections in physical risk terms in Miami-Dade alone total about $1 billion a year through 2050.

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