Hurricane Sally made landfall near to the resort town of Gulf Shores, Alabama, at 11am on Wednesday with maximum sustained windspeeds of 105 mph.
A significant level of building damage has been caused in the nearby major settlements of Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida.
In addition to the hurricane force winds, up to 30 inches of rain has fallen on the worst affected areas.
Sally has since been downgraded to a tropical storm and is due to dissipate into the Atlantic on Friday having charted a course over Georgia and the Carolinas.
Major assets that have been damaged or destroyed include the Pensacola Bay Bridge, a recently-upgraded 3 miles long structure, a section of which has reportedly collapsed.
Over 500,000 residents in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have suffered power outages.
Alpha comment: initial economic and insureds loss estimates have yet to be published, however comparisons have been made with Hurricane Ivan (2004), which made landfall close to Gulf Shores as a Category 3 storm and produced insured losses of approximately $8.5bn. Unlike Ivan, damage from Hurricane Sally appears to be chiefly the result flooding rather than high winds. Should this be so, much of the economic loss will not be covered by the private (re)insurance market. Though unofficial, sources suggest that modelling firm AIR Worldwide is preparing an initial insured loss range of between $1.5bn and $3.9bn for wind and storm surge damage (i.e. excluding flooding brought about by the heavy rains).
We will provide further updates upon the official publication of industry loss estimates.