Multiple winter storms and extreme cold led to 45 deaths and cost the U.S. economy $1 billion during January, according to Aon’s Global Catastrophe Recap – January 2019.
The report listed the winter storm events in the U.S. during the month:
- Pacific storm system on Jan. 5-Jan. 6. Heavy rainfall, mountain snow, high winds, and mudslides hit parts of Washington, Oregon, and California. Total economic losses were estimated at up to US$125 million, with insurers covering roughly US$75 million of the overall loss.
- Heavy snow and freezing rain on Jan. 11-14. A swath of heavy snow and freezing rain led to widespread damage across the Central and Eastern U.S. with 13 fatalities reported. Total economic and insured losses were each expected to reach into the millions.
- Pacific storm system on Jan. 16-18. Heavy rainfall, flooding, snow, gusty winds, and landslides caused economic losses of approximately of US$275 million across parts of California and Oregon. Public and private insurers covered roughly US$175 million of the overall loss.
- Severe winter storms and sub-zero temperatures. On Jan. 18-21 a potent winter storm brought periods of heavy snowfall, freezing rain, ice, rain, and thunderstorms to parts of the Eastern U.S., with 10 people killed. A surge of Arctic air behind the system from Jan. 22-24 resulted in sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast. Total economic and insured losses were each expected to surpass US$100 million.
- Heavy snow, ice, and extreme cold. On Jan. 29-31, a winter storm engulfed much of the Eastern U.S. At least 22 people were killed as air temperatures in parts of the Upper Midwest were colder than -50°F (-45.6°C) with a recorded wind chill temperature of -54°C (-65°F). Total economic and insured losses were expected to reach into the hundreds of millions.
Other global natural disaster events during the month included:
- Severe floods in Northern Queensland will likely lead to more than 6,525 insurance claims with payouts nearing A$80 million (US$57 million), according to the Insurance Council of Australia. Total economic damage from the floods may approach A$1 billion (US$710 million). During January, Australia recorded its hottest month on record at 30°C (86°F).
- Excessive rainfall in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil brought agricultural losses as well as property and infrastructure. The Confederation of Rural Associations of Argentina estimated agricultural damage alone at US$2.3 billion.
- Tropical Storm Pabuk made landfall in Thailand on Jan. 4, with 95 kph (60 mph) winds, becoming the earliest named storm to hit the country since at least 1951. Seven people were killed. The Thai Chamber of Commerce for Economic and Business Forecasting estimated economic losses of up to US$150 million.
- Seasonal flooding in Indonesia led to severe flood and landslides, killing at least 80 people. The government said roughly 22,500 homes and other structures and 14,000 hectares (34,000 acres) of cropland were affected, leading to millions of dollars of economic losses.
- Torrential rainfall in northern and western Saudi Arabia caused flooding from Jan. 27-29, killing at least 12 people. Total economic losses were likely to reach into the millions (USD)
Michal Lörinc, catastrophe analyst at Aon’s Impact Forecasting, commented: “While there was much focus on multiple winter storms and extreme cold via the Polar Vortex in the United States, it allowed an opportunity to remind that weather is local. Australia, for example, experienced the opposite in the form of record-breaking heat. In fact, January 2019 was proclaimed the hottest month on record for the country. Shifts in the behavior of the jet stream and other synoptic features can lead to more unusual and extreme weather phenomena.”
Source: Aon’s Impact Forecasting
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