Aon Benfield May Cat Report Highlights ‘Severe Weather’ in the U.S.

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 disaster perils that occurred worldwide during May 2014. The report reveals that “four periods of severe weather hit the United States during the month, resulting in aggregate insured losses estimated at more than $1.0 billion, with economic losses likely to reach several billion dollars.”

The report said the “costliest stretch occurred during a five-day period which damaged parts of the Midwest, Plains, Rockies, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, including the major metropolitan areas of Chicago and Denver. Despite the losses, by the end of May U.S. tornado activity for the year remained in the bottom 25th percentile of all years dating to the early 1950s.”

Steve Bowen, associate director and meteorologist within Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting team, said: “While tornado activity in the United States was fairly subdued during the month of May, there was no shortage of vigorous thunderstorm formation across the country. Large hail and damaging winds left considerable damage in many areas, which served as another reminder of how costly non-tornadic storm events can be for the insurance industry and local governments.

“Despite the relatively low activity of the 2014 tornado season, insurers are still faced with several billions of dollars in storm-related damage claims. However, the industry remains well-positioned financially as the focus in the U.S. begins to shift towards the start of the Atlantic hurricane season.”

Other areas around the world were hit by weather events as well. The report noted that the “heaviest rains in 120 years fell across portions of Southeast Europe during the second half of May, causing extensive flooding in Serbia and Bosnia. At least 80 people were killed, and economic losses were estimated to be near €3.3 billion ($4.5 billion), with significantly lower insured losses due to low penetration rates.

“Meanwhile, several days of heavy rainfall across southern China led to widespread flooding late in the month, killing at least 37 people and resulting in estimated economic losses of CNY7.4 billion ($1.2 billion), according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA). The most severe damage was recorded in the provincial regions of Guangdong, Jiangxi, Hunan, and Guizhou with more than 95,000 homes damaged or destroyed by flood inundation. Roughly 265,000 hectares (655,000 acres) of agricultural land was also damaged.

Where rain and floods didn’t occur, dry conditions, combined with high temperatures, low relative humidity levels and gusty winds led to dozens of wildfires across parts of the Texas Panhandle and Southern California, killing two people. Overall fire costs/damages from the two states approached $100 million.

In addition the report said a “USGS-measured magnitude-6.0 earthquake struck northern Thailand, killing at least one person and injuring 23 others. Total economic losses were listed at THB2.0 billion ($62 million), with insured losses of THB500 million ($15 million).

“In China, two earthquakes struck Yunnan Province near the border of Myanmar, injuring 60 people in total. The first tremor damaged or destroyed at least 45,000 structures, with total economic losses estimated at CNY367 million ($60 million). The second temblor damaged nearly 22,000 homes in Yingjiang County.

A strong offshore magnitude-6.9 earthquake rattled parts of Greece and Turkey, injuring 324 people.

To view the full Impact Forecasting May 2014 Global Catastrophe Recap report go to:

Source: Aon Benfield/Impact Forecasting