12 May 2021News

US faces multi-billion-dollar cleanup bill after being ravaged by hail in April: Aon

The US saw the lowest number of tornadoes in April since 1992, but faces a multi-billion-dollar damage bill following extensive hail impacting highly populated areas of Texas and Oklahoma.

Severe weather caused considerable damage to residential and commercial property, automobiles and agriculture in parts of the Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast US, with the most significant outbreak occurring from April 27-30, according to Aon’s latest Global Catastrophe Recap report.

A particularly damaging sequence of hailstorms affected three heavily populated areas on April 28. Hail larger than the size of baseballs impacted the San Antonio (TX), Fort Worth (TX), and Norman (OK) metro regions, causing considerable damage, with economic losses in these three areas alone expected to exceed $1 billion.

Meanwhile, Western and Central regions of Europe experienced a significant cold spell in the first week of April, causing an estimated €5 billion of damage, mostly in France and Italy.

Steve Bowen, managing director and head of catastrophe insight on Aon’s impact forecasting team, predicted costs associated with hail damage will continue to grow in coming years as more people move into high-risk areas for the SCS peril.

“Public perception often assumes that tornadoes drive the bulk of annual severe convective storm (SCS) damage costs,” said Bowen. “The reality is that large hail typically accounts for a majority of thunderstorm-related losses in North America during any given year, and April 2021 was a case in point.”

April also saw seasonal flooding in Colombia, which the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management said has caused 52 deaths and damage to more than 9,300 homes.

Flash flooding caused significant damage in Luanda Province of Angola on April 19, reportedly killing at least 24 people and displacing more than 11,000. Nearly 2,300 homes were damaged and at least 60 destroyed, along with 14 affected schools and four healthcare facilities.

Cyclone Seroja triggered flash flooding and massive landslides in southeastern Indonesia and Timor-Leste between April 3-5, resulting in at least 272 fatalities. More than 71,000 homes and other structures sustained damage in Indonesia alone, with total economic damage estimated at $475 million.

The storm made landfall in Western Australia on April 11. Official estimates suggested potential reconstruction costs of up to AUD200 million ($155 million).

Heavy rainfall across northern Haiti beginning on April 3 resulted in numerous instances of flooding and flash flooding. At least seven deaths were reported, and 2,676 residences were impacted to varying degrees, while cropland and livestock were also affected.