Isaias achieved category 1 hurricane status overnight as the storm successfully navigated the wind shear that was in its path and intensified to become hurricane Isaias, with the Florida and U.S. east coast firmly in its sights.

As we explained yesterday, Isaias is the first Florida and U.S. east coast hurricane threat of the season.

But there was significant uncertainty over the storms ability to get past mountainous Hispaniola and through a region experiencing strong wind shear with enough circulation left to still make hurricane strength before heading towards the Bahamas and Florida.

Hurricane Isaias is clearly resilient as it has managed to achieve this, reaching category 1 hurricane strength and currently packing sustained winds of 80 mph with higher gusts as it heads towards the Bahamas on a path to skirt the Florida coastline, potentially near to the Miami region.

Hurricane Isaias forecast path and tracking map

Hurricane Isaias now has a couple of days to travel over increasingly warm waters near the Bahamas on its way towards Florida and the U.S. east coast, with little in the way to halt its travel.

Still, hurricane Isaias is not experiencing the environmental conditions most conducive to intensification, as wind shear remains high and the storm could find itself becoming lop-sided as a result.

The storm is also being fed drier air from high pressure to its east, which could affect its ability to intensify over the next day or so.

But once closer to Florida and as it moves further north, the wind shear interaction lessens and there is a greater chance of hurricane Isaias increasing in strength.

The current forecast shows hurricane Isaias skirting Florida and heading north to make a landfall in the Carolinas. Given how close the storm is set to come to Florida and the fact there is a significant high pressure to the east, there is a chance hurricane Isaias is pushed closer to Florida and the forecast track could move west a little in the next day or two.

Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty in the exact track hurricane Isaias will take as it moves north and nears the Florida coast.

A GFS ensemble model run from shows hurricane Isaias staying offshore at the moment:

Hurricane Isaias modelled forecast GFS

But, a similar run from a CMC ensemble model run from shows hurricane Isaias coming ashore near the Florida Keys:

Hurricane Isaias forecast model run CMC

Hurricane Isaias looks set to be a challenging storm to forecast over the next couple of days, with how close it comes to Florida having a significant bearing on the eventual chances of an insurance and reinsurance market loss being at all significant.

North of Florida though, with a greater chance of some intensification, the insurance and reinsurance market will also need to be on watch for losses in states along the eastern seaboard.

Whenever a hurricane comes close to Florida it puts the insurance-linked securities (ILS) and catastrophe bond market on watch, given the significant concentration of reinsurance exposure in the state.

Coming soon after a mid-year renewal season when rates were very attractive to underwrite Florida reinsurance business, but hedging capacity wasn’t always readily available, it will be interesting to see whether some quoting activity breaks out for instruments such as industry loss warranties (ILW’s) or last minute parametric reinsurance and retro coverage.

There is every chance some players have entered the hurricane season lacking in retro this year, given the contraction in capacity there and the fact rates have been so high.

Sometimes a storm threat in the water can stimulate the desire for greater protection, resulting in some trading of instruments, as well potentially as trading of cat bonds and other ILS assets.

The next 24 hours or so will be key in determining exactly how big a threat hurricane Isaias is to the insurance, reinsurance and ILS market. All eyes on the tropics once again.

You can see a forecast intensity model run for hurricane Isaias from below:

Tropical storm Isaias or hurricane Isaias forecast intensity

Track the 2020 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season on our dedicated page and we’ll update you as new information emerges and any meaningful storms form.

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