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Hurricane Ian Threatens Florida With Up To $70B In Property Damage

A color-coded map of the probability of tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Ian. Deep purple represents a greater than 90% chance, with a decreasing chance as one moves toward the green edge (a less than 10% chance).

Hurricane Ian, which early Tuesday struck the island nation of Cuba hard, is now headed toward Florida, where a landfall as early as Wednesday or Thursday could threaten lives and cause billions in property damage.

Overall property damage in the area could reach $60B to $70B if the storm strikes Florida as forecast, Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research, told Bloomberg

There is now especially a danger of a life- and property-threatening storm surge along the west coast of Florida, with the highest risk from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay area, according to the National Hurricane Center. Winds and heavy rainfall are also expected throughout much of the rest of the state and into southern Georgia.

The estimated cost of property damages would put Ian in the top 10 most damaging U.S. hurricanes. Hurricane Katrina, which mostly missed Florida and struck Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in 2005, is still both the deadliest and most expensive hurricane in U.S. history, causing an estimated $96B in damages.

The most damage ever done to Florida by a hurricane was by Irma, which hit the state in 2017 and caused an estimated $50B in damage.

On Florida’s west coast, more than 1 million homes — including both single-family and multifamily properties — could suffer serious damage, resulting in some $258B in replacement costs, according to a CoreLogic report.

The heavily populated cities of St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Sarasota could see damage to more than 630,000 residential properties, with a reconstruction cost of $149B, according to CoreLogic.

The figures assume Hurricane Ian makes landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, which is an extremely strong storm. The National Hurricane Center currently predicts Ian to strike Florida as such as storm.

“Hurricane Ian has all the ingredients you need for a bad storm surge event,” CoreLogic Senior Hazard Scientist Tom Jeffery said in a statement.

“Many homes along Florida’s western coast are at risk of storm surge inundation regardless of where the storm makes landfall, and even more homeowners will contend with heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds throughout midweek,” Jeffery said.

Related Topics: Florida, Hurricanes, Hurricane Ian