Aon Benfield Cat Report Focuses on U.S. Snow/Ice and $1 Billion+ Losses

March 6, 2015

Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team, has released the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during February 2015.

Topping the list are the five separate periods of “heavy snow, frigid cold, freezing rain and ice” that struck the U.S. Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Plains and Southeast during the month, killing 72 people.

The report noted that “Boston registered its snowiest and second-coldest February on record, and was poised to challenge the winter season of 1995/96 as the snowiest in its recorded history.”

Early estimates indicate that the “aggregated economic losses from the events will be in the low-digit billions of dollars, with insured losses likely to exceed $1.0 billion.

Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting senior scientist and meteorologist, said: “Prolific winter weather highlighted a very active February for the eastern half of the United States. Boston was the epicenter for record snowfall that resulted from an onslaught of strong winter storm systems.

“Arctic cold, including multiple returns of the Polar Vortex, also contributed to residential and commercial losses that impacted dozens of states. As we begin to transition to the start of the severe weather season, it will be interesting to see if a cooler pattern lingers into the spring months. Should such a scenario occur, it is entirely possible that U.S. tornado totals could remain at historically low levels for a fourth consecutive year.”

The severe winter weather also hit parts of Europe and Asia. The report said: “In Europe, 19 people died as heavy snow fell across large areas of the continent resulting in power outages and transport disruptions. While in Asia, large avalanches killed at least 286 people and destroyed 1,250 homes in Afghanistan.

“Cyclones Lam and Marcia both made landfall in Australia within the space of six hours on February 20, resulting in nearly 15,000 insurance claims as insured losses from Marcia alone reached US$69 million. Combined economic losses from the storms were preliminarily listed at US$312 million.

“Meanwhile Tropical Storm Fundi brought torrential rain and strong winds to Madagascar, causing six fatalities and damaging almost 7,500 homes.”

Heavy flooding also occurred on all six inhabited continents during February, with the costliest event occurring in Indonesia, killing six people. Total damages in Jakarta alone were listed at $235 million.

Other flood damage and fatalities were noted in parts of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic.

There was also a magnitude-5.2 earthquake in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on February 22, damaging at least 3,000 homes and causing economic losses in excess of $15 million.

Source: Aon Benfield/Impact Forecasting

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