Estimate puts hurricane Fiona insured damages at $660 million
Hurricane Fiona, which struck the U.S. Gulf Coast Monday, is said to have caused at least $660 million in damages, with insured losses estimated at $450 million by a U.S. insurance rating firm.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) says the storm is expected to hit the Florida Panhandle, St. Petersburg and Tampa late today before moving towards the northern Gulf Coast, where it will be the most powerful storm on record.
The NHC predicts Hurricane Fiona will produce some 60 mph (100 km/h) winds with sustained winds of 90 mph (140 km/h) for 24-hours in the Florida Panhandle.
The NHC says that Fiona is forecast to intensify over the next day or two, potentially reaching hurricane intensity. It also predicts that maximum sustained winds will increase to 100 mph (160 km/h) and there is a 75% chance of its weakening to a tropical storm.
An area of low pressure is forecast to pass to the southeast of Florida on Wednesday and move down the coast Wednesday night and into southern Georgia Thursday morning. That area of low pressure will become a tropical storm and move up the coast Thursday night into early Friday.
Hurricane Fiona is the second most-widespread, most intense and most damaging hurricane in Florida records dating to 1900.
The storm was still expected to produce a quarter of the damage from Hurricane Andrew, a Category 4 storm that made landfall on September 16, 1992, in the Florida Keys and wreaked havoc along the southern and western Florida coast.
The NHC’s forecast maps have shown that Hurricane Fiona will bring high winds and storm surge to the Florida Panhandle, St. Petersburg and Tampa before moving up the central and northern Gulf Coast.
The storm’s winds and rainfall from the heaviest rainfall in Florida history is expected to reach to about 140 miles (235 km) west of the coast.
The NHC said in its latest 5-day forecast that Fiona is expected to move to the west-northwest across Florida, Georgia and the southeast into Thursday as it is expected to begin weakening.
The storm is forecast to move northwest by late Thursday and Friday before weakening and becoming more difficult to locate.
Hurricane-strength surf and strong winds, with sustained winds of up to 90 mph (140 km/h) are