As Hurricane Matthew spins in the Caribbean, forecastssuggest it may impact Florida and other areas of the southeastern U.S. laterthis week.
The National Hurricane Center reported the storm as aCategory 4 with maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour in a 2 p.m. ET advisory.Rainfall from the storm could create life-threatening flash floods andmudslides in parts of Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, the NHC wrote.
A hurricane watch is in effect over a roughly 200-milestretch between Boca Raton, Fla., and the Volusia/Brevard county line.The storm could near the eastern coast of Florida on Oct. 6 and could bring tropicalstorm or hurricane conditions to Georgia and the Carolinas, but the NHC notedthat it is too early to fully predict the storm's impact.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said during an Oct. 4 news conferencethat the state planned to begin evacuating coastal areas in the afternoon ofOct. 5 and recommended that people move 100 miles inland. Haley said theevacuation time of 3 p.m. ET may change as the forecast changes.
Although the hurricane is expected to weaken somewhat, it isexpected to remain at Category 4 through Oct. 6, the NHC wrote in its 2 p.m. ETadvisory. The storm had briefly reached Category 5 as itapproached Jamaica on Sept. 30.
Hurricanes have almost entirely avoided Florida for adecade. Until HurricaneHermine struck the state Sept. 2 as a Category 1 storm, nohurricane had made landfall in Florida since Wilma, a Category 3, in 2005.
Later in September, Florida's insurance commissioner saidclaims related toHermine would be about $80 million.
A landfall in Florida could create downside for propertyunderwriters' fourth-quarter earnings results, Keefe Bruyette & Woodsanalysts wrote in an Oct. 4 note.
"Depending on the storm's strength at landfall, loss potentialcould be high and could pierce into reinsurance layers," they wrote."Even a low-level hurricane could see reinsurers participate in thelosses," because property insurance in the state tends to be heavilyreinsured.
But Hurricane Matthew will not likely change the softpricing environment, the analysts added, writing that KBW sees "theindustry continuing to be overcapitalized with the ability to absorb a largeloss event."