Abstract

This article describes the development of a hurricane wind field model and a damage model that can be used to assess the expected damage to residential structures, in terms of claims and insured losses, when a hurricane is approaching the coast of South Carolina. Reconnaissance aircraft measurements are used to develop a gradient-level wind field that is then moved along the projected track of the hurricane. By using gradient-to-surface conversion factors and decay rates based on observations in recent hurricanes, mean wind speeds are determined at 10-min intervals at the centroid of each zip code. Damage models relating the number of claims and amount of losses to the maximum mean surface wind speed in a zip code are developed using loss data from Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew. The application of the assessment procedure is demonstrated using Hurricane Hugo. Specifically, the procedure is used to predict the expected number of claims and the expected amount of losses likely to be experienced by a particular insurance company if a storm the size and strength of Hugo were to follow the actual path of the hurricane, a track deviating 5° to the left, and a track deviating 5° to the right. Owing to the location and distribution of population centers in the state, small deviations in the track of the hurricane were shown to produce significant changes in the number of claims and the amount of the total insured losses.

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