Aon Benfield February Cat Report:U.S. Winter Storms; Russian Meteor

March 6, 2013

Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe model development center of excellence at Aon Benfield, has released the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which reviews the natural disasters that occurred worldwide during February 2013.

The report initially focuses on at least four separate winter storms that impacted the United States during the month. The most deadly was a powerful “Nor’easter” which killed at least 15 people and affected more than 60 million citizens. A state of emergency was declared in six states.

The most severe storm brought heavy snowfall of 40 inches (102 centimeters) in Connecticut, and coastal flooding in Massachusetts – including the city of Boston. Total economic losses have been estimated at approximately $100 million, with only a modest number of insurance claims filed.

Another winter storm led to severe weather activity across the Southeast U.S., spawning an EF-4 tornado with 170 mph (275 kph) winds in the greater Hattiesburg, Mississippi region that injured at least 82 people. According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the tornado damaged more than 1,600 homes, businesses and other structures in Forrest and Lamar counties alone.

Steve Jakubowski, President of Impact Forecasting, said: “As was the case in January, flooding and active winter weather continued to produce the largest global loss events during February, with the United States being particularly impacted by a series of powerful winter storms.

“While the damage was widespread, economic losses across the affected U.S. states were within the expected range for events of this magnitude, and, in some cases, insured losses were actually lower than might have been expected. We continue to analyze the impact of winter weather globally, and use our findings to update Impact Forecasting’s catastrophe models to ensure we provide our clients with the most realistic exposure scenarios.”

Severe winter weather was also recorded in China, particularly in the provinces of Anhui, Hubei and Jiangsu. A combined 2,700 homes were damaged or destroyed, primarily due to roofs collapsing under the weight of the snow and ice. Two people were killed, and direct economic losses were listed at CNY770 million ($124 million).

Four separate tropical storm systems had a notable impact during February, including tropical cyclones Felleng and Haruna in Madagascar. Felleng’s torrential rains and high winds killed at least 18 people across areas of Madagascar and the Seychelles despite never making an official landfall.

Haruna made landfall in southern Madagascar’s Atsimo-Andrefana, killing at least 26 people and damaging 16,160 homes and 289 other structures, including schools, administrative buildings and health centers. Total economic losses caused by Felleng were listed in excess of $10 million.

Tropical Cyclone Rusty made landfall in Western Australia near Pardoo; however, it caused only slight damage despite rainfall in excess of 500 millimeters (19.69 inches), and winds gusting beyond 120 kph (75 mph).

Flooding was prevalent across portions of South America, Asia and Europe during the month, with Peru and Bolivia among the hardest-hit countries. Seasonal rains killed at least 54 people and damaged or destroyed nearly 22,000 homes.

Other flood events occurred in Macedonia, Serbia, Greece, Indonesia and the Philippines.

A prolonged drought that began in January continued to affect parts of central and eastern China during the month. At least six provinces (Yunnan, Sichuan, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Shanxi, and Gansu) were impacted as nearly 750,000 hectares (1.85 million acres) of cropland were damaged by a lack of precipitation. The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) noted that combined economic losses were CNY3.37 billion ($541 million).

There was also a magnitude-8.0 earthquake, which struck off the Solomon Islands archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, leading to the deaths of at least 13 people. A small tsunami up to 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) in height was recorded, which damaged at least 1,066 homes on the Santa Cruz Islands. Earthquake events were also recorded in Colombia and China.

The most spectacular – and highly unusual – catastrophic event was the meteor that exploded above Russia’s Urals region, injuring 1,491 people. The report said the “blast, which had an energy equivalent roughly 30 times stronger than an atomic bomb, damaged 100,000 homes, 3,000 buildings, 700 schools and 200 hospitals in more than six Russian cities and parts of two Kazakhstan provinces. Economic losses were listed at RUB1 billion ($33 million).”

Source: Aon Benfield/Impact Forecasting

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