AccuWeather Global Weather Center – September 2, 2021 – AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers today announced AccuWeather has increased its estimate of total damage and economic loss from Hurricane Ida from $70-80 billion, which AccuWeather issued on Monday, to about $95 billion or one-half of a percent of the national gross domestic product, meaning Ida will cause a notable negative impact on the U.S. economy for the third and fourth quarter.
“As we forecast, Ida’s impact on the U.S. was not complete after it had made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in Port Fourchon, LA Sunday afternoon causing death, destruction and knocking out the power for over 1 million people,” said Myers. “AccuWeather had been accurately forecasting since the weekend that days after landfall, Ida would unleash previous unseen levels of ‘fast and furious’ flooding rain that pummeled New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and other parts of the Northeast that were scarcely ready for a storm of this magnitude.”
While some may have considered AccuWeather’s earlier damage estimate too high, Myers said only half of it accounted for the damage related to Hurricane Ida’s initial impact, as it expected further damage in the Northeast.
“It is rare for a hurricane from the Gulf of Mexico to produce this much damage this far north, but as we had been warning for days, we knew there would be significant damage away from the Gulf Coast. In New York City alone, which saw 7.19 inches of rain fall in Central Park and importantly over 3 inches in just one hour, the levels of flash flooding were unprecedented and caused great damage to subways, buildings, roads, railroads and other costly infrastructure in one of the world’s most populated cities. Disruption to lives, homes, transportation systems and businesses, costly infrastructure repairs from pervasive water damage as well as lingering health effects from mold and mildew factor prominently in our estimate. Some people may be out of work for one or two days, but others may not have a job to go back to as many businesses will close altogether,” said Myers.
“We predicted that as Ida’s copious tropical moisture was drawn northward, it would interact with a stalled front as well as be infused with energy from a potent jet stream disturbance, factors which we accurately forecast would conspire to produce an unusual and extremely dangerous flooding disaster. Our team detected this pattern over the weekend that would produce heavy rainfall, which would fall very quickly. Additionally, as we have stated for days, our concerns were escalated because this unusually heavy rain would be falling on ground already saturated due to previous heavy rains from Tropical Rainstorm Fred and Tropical Storm Henri, increasing the risk for rapidly rising water.”
In addition to the flash flooding that occurred in New York City, Myers said there was epic flooding in downtown Philadelphia, northern New Jersey and surrounding areas. Additionally, New Jersey experienced several strong tornadoes which destroyed homes and businesses. Most of the flash flooding from Ida impacting the Northeast is over, yet Myers expects significant river and stream flooding to get worse, since all rivers have not yet crested. “There will be more damage to come,” he said.
Compared with great flooding events of the past impacting the Northeast, Myers said Ida ranks among some of the most destructive.
“For more than 5 days, AccuWeather forecasters have been predicting the expected severe flood impact of Ida to match epic storms which produced devasting flooding in the Appalachians, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, such as Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee (both in 2011) and Hurricane Agnes in 1972, which was AccuWeather’s first major instance of saving lives.”
For consistency, continuity and to keep people safer by warning of the danger, Myers said AccuWeather rated Ida as a 4 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes, which factors flooding rain, storm surge, wind, economic impact and other variables into its algorithm, and maintained that 4 rating as the storm moved northeast. The Saffir-Simpson scale by contrast only measures wind speed and was not designed to rate storms like Ida as it moved away from the Gulf Coast and was downgraded to a tropical storm.
“We wanted people in the Northeast to understand the full scope of the threat and take necessary action,” said Myers. “We are proud that people who follow AccuWeather had a detailed forecast and actionable insights on expected impacts, so they were best prepared and able to keep themselves and their families safer.”
Myers’ estimate is based on an analysis incorporating independent methods to evaluate all direct and indirect impacts of the storm, includes both insured and uninsured losses, and is based on a variety of sources, statistics, and unique techniques AccuWeather uses to estimate the damage, and includes damage to property and businesses as well as their contents and cars, job and wage losses, infrastructure damage, auxiliary business losses, travel disruption, food spoilage and medical expenses. The estimate also accounts for the costs of power outages to businesses and individuals, for economic losses because of highway closures and evacuations, emergency management and the extraordinary government expenses for and cleanup operations, rescue and the long-term effects on supply chain, the oil and natural gas industries, transportation, tourism, and the tail health effects resulting from flooding and the disease caused by standing water.