Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm steamrolling across the Atlantic Ocean, is on a path to strike Florida and could be the most expensive storm in U.S. history, one expert predicted.
Barclays' Jay Gelb wrote insurance companies might end up paying as much as $130 billion in claims related to the storm, which could hit the Miami area this weekend.
"Given the potential magnitude of this storm as well as the potential to impact a highly populated area, we think Irma's insured damage in Florida could be the largest ever in the U.S., perhaps equivalent to Hurricane Katrina," Gelb wrote, per CNBC.
"In a worst-case scenario, catastrophe modelers AIR Worldwide and Karen Clark and Co. have estimated a repeat of the 1926 Miami hurricane could result in $125-130 billion of insured damage."
CNBC noted Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the New Orleans area in 2005, cost insurance companies an inflation-adjusted $50 billion.
Hurricane Harvey ended up dumping more than 50 inches of rain on parts of the Houston area last week. CNN cited a study that said that storm might cost insurance companies somewhere around $10 billion, even though though the estimated damage could eclipse $35 billion.
Irma had sustained winds of 185 mph as of Tuesday afternoon, which makes it one of the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricanes in history. Florida has declared a state of emergency and is bracing for a direct hit sometime this weekend.
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