CBS Local — National weather forecaster AccuWeather has released a staggering prediction for what it will cost to repair the destruction left by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The forecasting service estimates that the two massive storms will bring a combined price tag of $290 billion.
AccuWeather founder Dr. Joel Myers detailed the historic impact of the hurricanes, which are reportedly the first pair of Category 4 or higher storms to strike the U.S. mainland in the same season.
“We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion, among the costliest hurricanes of all time. This amounts to 0.5 of a percentage point of the GDP of $19 trillion,” Myers said. “We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history at $190 billion or one full percentage point of the GDP. Together, AccuWeather predicts these two disasters amount to 1.5 of a percentage point of the GDP.
“Some of the losses will be covered by insurance, some will not, so the losses will be felt in a variety of ways by millions of people. Many millions of people have already been evacuated, so their lives have already been affected and they have incurred costs of one sort or another.”
The one-two punch of Harvey and Irma will reportedly dwarf the crushing costs of many recent storms to hit the country. Hurricane Katrina, which overwhelmed much of New Orleans, brought between $108 and $250 billion in damage to the region. The 2005 hurricane season, which saw three named storms make landfall, carried a nearly $200 billion price tag with it.
As Hurricane Irma continues to sweep through the south, some financial experts are claiming the cost will be even higher. One estimate for Irma alone puts the economic toll at $300 billion. Barrie Cornes, an analyst at the stockbroker Panmure Gordon, says insurance companies will likely be on the hook for half of all damage reported once the cleanup begins.