Severe April weather tops billion dollar loss


Impact Forecasting has released the latest edition of its monthly global catastrophe report, revealing severe weather events in the US topped $1 billion of loss.

The report reveals that a multi-day outbreak of severe weather and flash flooding in the US will likely be the first billion-dollar economic loss event of 2014, attributed to convective thunderstorms.

At least 39 people were killed and 250 injured amid nearly 70 confirmed tornado touch-downs, which occurred across more than 20 states in the Plains, Mississippi Valley, Southeast, Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic.

Economic losses are set to exceed $1 billion, with insured losses minimally in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Another US severe weather outbreak led to major damage in parts of the country. The most significant damage was attributed to hail, as hailstones the size of softballs struck the Denton, Texas metro region.

Total economic losses were estimated at $950 million, with insured losses in excess of $650 million.

Adam Podlaha, head of impact forecasting, says: “The recent outbreaks of tornadoes, large hail and damaging straight-line winds in the United States have emphasized the importance of historical data analysis for insurers and reinsurers when trying to forecast future losses. Impact forecasting has expanded and implemented the past 10 years of observed data from the US storm prediction center into its ‘elements’ platform, which is now being utilized by our insurer and reinsurer clients to better gauge their losses across events with lower return periods.”

Elsewhere, severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall affected China. According to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), the events killed nine people and damaged more than 40,000 homes and thousands of hectares of crops. Economic losses were listed at ¥6.2 billion ($1.0 billion).

Meanwhile, cyclone Ita made landfall in Australia’s northern Queensland, bringing high winds and heavy rains to mainly rural regions with a low levels of structural exposure. Total economic losses – almost entirely in the agriculture sector – were estimated at up to $1.1 billion.

Torrential rains the same cyclone led to extensive flooding in the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara. At least 23 people were killed and a state of emergency declared after the rains caused the Matanikau River to burst its banks, affecting more than 50,000 residents.

A powerful magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off the northern coast of Chile, causing damage and spawning a small tsunami. Seven people were killed and 13,000 homes damaged in the towns of Iquique and Alto Hospicio. Total economic losses were expected to be less than $100 million. Additional earthquake events occurred in Nicaragua, Mexico, and China during the month.

The most significant loss of life however occurred in Afghanistan, where an estimated 2,665 people were killed in flash floods, including 2,500 in a massive landslide in Badakhshan province.

View the full April 2014 global catastrophe recap report, here.

Aon Benfield, catastrophe, report, April

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