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Boston company using computer models to predict hurricane damage

Boston company's 'catastrophe models' track potential future hurricanes
Boston company's 'catastrophe models' track potential future hurricanes 01:49

BOSTON - The Atlantic basin hurricane season started Thursday and tracking tropical developments will become more and more frequent over the summer. Now, a Boston company is tracking more than just the path of these storms.

Karen Clark and Company has developed what's they call "catastrophe models," which span from earthquakes to wildfires and floods. But, hurricane season is always top of mind this time of year.

Their models simulate potential future hurricanes and then produce financial and fiscal analysis on based on the potential damage. A major focus is on the most effected areas, such as Florida where just last year Hurricane Ian left more than $50 billion in damage. That type of storm has a less than 1% chance of occurring in Boston. But, Clark said the models are even more important in low frequency areas like Massachusetts that have infrastructure that may be subject to lower impact loses.

"If you have property assets, let's say, along the North Shore of Massachusetts, the models can estimate how likely you are to have an event of a particular size," said Clark. "But the other aspect of the model is the engineering component. So the models have thousands of what we call vulnerability functions, representing the damage that can be caused by different wind speeds to single-family homes, steel warehouses, high-rise office buildings, hotels."

These models can go as far quantifying if you need to install storm shutters, brace garage doors, or put in different types of mitigation. The insurance industry is the largest user of this analysis, but Clark has really nailed down the analysis for Massachusetts businesses so they can also benefit from these models.

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