Experts

Experts at FIT reveal hurricane disaster models

A leading disaster-modeling expert is calling Irma’s forecast track a worst-case scenario for Florida.

In the next few days, a Florida Institute of Technology will find houses in the path of the storm and attach instruments that measure the wind pressure on the building.

It’s one way of estimating how high the losses could add up.

“The worst-case scenario would be a hurricane coming from the south and going up along the coast,” said Jean-Paul Pinelli.

Pinelli, a Florida Institute of Technology civil engineering professor, studies disaster — specifically, hurricanes and the amount of damage they can do.

Looking at Wednesday’s 11 a.m. forecast track from the National Hurricane Center, Pinelli said he couldn’t think of a hurricane that could do any more damage.

“Taking one city after another, starting with Miami, Palm Beach, Melbourne and so on, it’s a big number,” Pinelli said. “We’re talking about thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of homes.”

With destruction from hurricanes like Harvey and Matthew adding up every year, the insurance industry is using Pinelli’s research.

His efforts will result in a model that can add up all the estimated damage from a hurricane in a short time. Inputting the value of all the property in the path of the storm, the model can come up with a number.

“With this information, insurance companies are able to set what their premiums should be; what you and I should pay,” Pinelli said.

The FIT team of engineers will wait a day or two till they can be more certain of the path of the storm, then they’ll pick out the buildings to get readings that’ll go into their computer model.

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