It’s time to take a break and play with one of the latest hurricane damage prediction tools to ascend from a darkened computer lab to your desktop: the iCAT Damage Estimator. iCAT (a company providing catastrophe insurance) built this web-application to provide easy access to historical hurricane damage information. If you’d like a 10-minute introduction, see the video here:
The idea is simple enough: users can easily provide a little input and view any storm or combination of storms overlaid on a map of the North Atlantic basin. Other sites have offered this capability before, but what’s new here is that the application generates a table showing how much damage the storm caused when it hit AND how much the same storm would likely cause if it hit today (taking into account inflation, wealth, and population changes). See the screen shot below which shows the top 10 damaging storms:
Frighteningly, Katrina takes third place, at about half the predicted cost of a repeat of the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane.
You can search for storms by name, by year, by cost, or, perhaps most interestingly, by selecting a section of the coast and seeing how many storms have hit that selection and how much damage they caused (and may cause if they reoccur). See the “map tools” tab to get started.
All the information on the site is open source and based upon publicly available data, and it’s awfully easy to share your findings any number of ways including using email and Google Earth — see the “export” tab on the far right of the screen.
While we can’t speak for its accuracy in projecting future damages, it looks like a useful tool for reminding us of our risks, especially for those lucky enough to not have been hit recently. We’re adding it to our Finding and Using Additional Hazard Information page.