According to new CoreLogic data analysis, insured wind losses for residential and commercial properties in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama from Hurricane Zeta are estimated to be between $2.2 billion and $3.5 billion. Insured storm surge losses are estimated to be an additional $0.3 billion to $0.5 billion.
Hurricane Zeta made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana, in Terrebonne Parish before directly hitting New Orleans on Wednesday evening, October 28. The storm was a strong Category 2 hurricane with a maximum sustained surface wind speed of 110 miles per hour, just 1 mile per hour below Category 3 intensity. This marks the third hurricane in two months to make landfall in Louisiana. As Hurricane Zeta approached the Louisiana coastline, the storm passed through an area of warm water temperatures and low wind shear, enabling it to strengthen considerably. The storm resulted in at least six deaths and hundreds of downed trees and power lines. A 9-foot surge was measured in the Bay of St. Louis, Mississippi.
"With one month to go, this hurricane season has been incredibly destructive due to the consistent cadence of storms and their too-similar landfall paths. While southwestern Louisiana was largely spared from Hurricane Zeta, New Orleans fell directly in the storm's quick-moving path," said Curtis McDonald, meteorologist and senior product manager of CoreLogic. "The important thing right now is to restore power to the millions of homes in the southeastern states, continue damage repairs in previously impacted homes and prepare for what could be record-breaking hurricane activity in November."
The analysis includes residential homes and commercial properties, including contents and business interruption and does not include broader economic loss from the storm. The table below shows the estimates for commercial and residential insured property losses by state.
After leaving Louisiana late Wednesday night, Hurricane Zeta charged east, upending roofs and extinguishing power to millions of homes across Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. As the storm moved across the southeastern states, it weakened to a tropical storm centered east of Asheville, North Carolina, by dawn on Thursday. While Zeta did produce some rain, widespread inland flooding was not reported due to the storm's high forward speed. Most of the damage reported was attributed to wind and storm surge. The storm moved offshore from Delaware on October 29 and continues to move eastward over the Atlantic Ocean.
"Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and severity across the board," said Tom Larsen, principal, insurance solutions at CoreLogic. "Sophisticated catastrophe modeling estimates the impact of natural disasters with greater certainty, a key solution to addressing underinsurance issues and risk mitigation. It is imperative for mortgage lenders and insurance carriers to begin leveraging technology to better protect homeowners, accelerate local economic recovery and protect their business."