Okay, it may not sound like breaking news, but it is worth noting, that the National Hurricane Center has lowered the strength of Hurricane Camille, which struck the Gulf Coast in 1969. Camille had been rated previously as the most powerful hurricane to strike the American coastline, having been estimated to have 190 mile per hour winds. In its wake, 256 people died and it caused $1.4 billion in 1969 dollars in property damage.
A team of researchers reanalyzed the historical data from 1969 and calculated that Camille’s maximum wind strength was only 175 mph. The catastrophic damage it caused made it the benchmark that all storms were measured against for decades. Even with the downgrade, it is the second most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S.
While you may not care a great deal about these rankings, it is important that strength analysis of storms is accurate, to allow building codes to accurately anticipate the potential storms an area may sustain. This type of data may also affect the types of policies an insurance company will offer, and as important, what they will charge for those policies.
It is notable for Florida residents and businesses that two of the three strongest hurricanes to strike the U.S., have hit Florida. Hurricane Andrew, ranked number three in the ratings, caused massive damage in South Florida. In assessing your insurance needs, you should review when your property was built and the standards to which it was built.
Florida has been lucky and avoided a catastrophic hurricane in the last few years. Nonetheless, the storms like Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy should remind everyone that Category 5 hurricanes are not merely an issue of the past.
The prospect of a storm similar to the 1935 hurricane that struck the Florida Keys on Labor Day with 185 mph winds hitting the heavily developed Florida coastline still remains a matter of when, not if.
Source: Claims Journal, “Hurricane Camille’s Peak Coastal Winds Downgraded,” Associated Press, April 11, 2014