Damages Estimates Climb
A line of thunderstorms and isolated super cells that moved into the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area in the early afternoon on April 3, 2012, produced numerous tornadoes and large hail that wrought extensive damage throughout the region.
Powerful winds peeled roofs from homes, leveled buildings, and tossed empty big rigs nearly 100 feet into the air, the catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide reported. As of April 6, preliminary damage estimates put the cost at $300 million, according to Southwestern Insurance Information Service (SIIS).
SIIS President Sandra Helin said, however, that the number is expected to rise and could reach $500 million. “We are basing these estimates on aggregate homeowner and automobile claims reported thus far from our insurance company members,” she said.
At press time, access to some devastated areas was still limited but Helin said it has been estimated that at least 350 homes were destroyed and up to a thousand homes were damaged.
“We want to remind folks that insurance adjusters still don’t have access to certain areas of the DFW area that were affected by the tornadoes and storms,” Helin told Insurance Journal on April 9.
“We cannot pinpoint the number of auto claims at this time, as insurance adjusters are responding to so many of them around-the-clock since this disaster struck,” Helin added. “But it could be safe to say that auto claim numbers could triple the number of structural claims in the DFW area.”
Early storm reports indicated that at least 12 tornadoes hit the area. No fatalities were reported, according to the Insurance Council of Texas, but the Texas Department of Insurance said an estimated 20 people were injured.
The cities of Kennedale, Arlington, Lancaster, southeast Dallas, Joshua, Forney, Desoto, Mesquite, Royce City and Greenville were hit by tornadoes, the ICT said.
Tennis ball size hail and larger struck Euless, Coppell, Heath and Irving causing extensive damage to vehicles, homes and businesses.
The extent of commercial business losses was unknown at press time, but many businesses in suburban communities around Dallas were damaged by the storms.
Additionally, the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport reported that 110 planes suffered varying degrees of hail damage during the outbreak. More than 400 flights were cancelled at DFW — the main hub for American Airlines and the eighth busiest airport in the world, according to catastrophe modeler RMS.
Flights were also cancelled at Dallas Love Field airport, a big base for Southwest Airlines, RMS reported.
Destruction from accompanying hailstorms may ultimately have caused the most damage, as high wind gusts and large hail blanketed the area, the ICT reported. ICT spokesman Mark Hanna noted that insured losses will continue to mount as policyholders are able to determine the extent of the damage to their homes, automobiles and businesses.
RMS reported that 2012 has been an extremely active year for tornadoes, with 383 preliminary tornado reports received from January to March; 223 of those reports occurred in March alone.