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Peak Hurricane Season Arrives

A second tropical storm is in currently in the neighborhood, as former Hurricane Gustav was weakened by slamming into the unfortunate island of Hispaniola. However, Gustav is predicted to gain enough strength to qualify as a hurricane again by tomorrow and is headed toward the Gulf Coast. It remains to be seen whether the storm's path and intensity will be enough to call claims executives back from their vacations.

This year's Atlantic hurricane season has spawned seven storms, including two hurricanes, one that made landfall in the U.S. In late July Hurricane Dolly killed at least 17 people in Central America and caused approximately $1.2 billion dollars in damage in Texas-making it the third most costly in the state's history. As we ride the peak of the season, from late August through September, even as one moderately powerful storm is dissipating over Alabama, another threatens the Gulf Coast.Tropical Storm Fay did her level best to get attention, hanging around for a few days, making a series of encores and positively last performances, and finally fading away in a state of depression. Fay's meteorological performance was impressive, deluging parts of Florida with about two feet off rain and setting a record of four landfalls on a single state. Fay's human toll was grim, resulting in 38 deaths across Florida, Georgia and the Caribbean. The extent of the property damage caused by the storm is yet to be assessed but may reach the hundreds of millions of dollars. However, since flooding caused much of that damage, Fay's impact on the insurance industry is not likely to be great.

That made the storm hard to cover from a reporter's perspective. One or two tentative press releases appeared in advance of landfall, but after it was clear that Fay's impact was likely to take the form of flooding, insurance carrier dispatches stopped coming. One insurer declined to comment on the grounds that the right guy was on vacation.

A second tropical storm is in currently in the neighborhood, as former Hurricane Gustav was weakened by slamming into the unfortunate island of Hispaniola. However, Gustav is predicted to gain enough strength to qualify as a hurricane again by tomorrow and is headed toward the Gulf Coast. It remains to be seen whether the storm's path and intensity will be enough to call claims executives back from their vacations.

UPDATE: Gustav is gaining strength as it meanders near Jamaica. It is expected to strengthen as it eventually heads northwest into the Gulf of Mexico. The Weather Channel's site offers this somewhat ominous language:

There is still some uncertainty regarding Gustav's future strength; which will likely be fine tuned based on what happens today. It is forecast to be a hurricane as it tracks through the Gulf of Mexico; possibly a major one. All interests along the Gulf Coast should pay very close attention to this potentially dangerous storm.
A second tropical storm is in currently in the neighborhood, as former Hurricane Gustav was weakened by slamming into the unfortunate island of Hispaniola. However, Gustav is predicted to gain enough strength to qualify as a hurricane again by tomorrow and is headed toward the Gulf Coast. It remains to be seen whether the storm's path and intensity will be enough to call claims executives back from their vacations.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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