Global Floods Cause $8B in Economic Losses During March: Aon Catastrophe Report

April 10, 2019

Damage from flooding in March 2019 is estimated at US$8 billion from events across the globe, according to Aon’s “Global Catastrophe Recap – March 2019.”

“The major catastrophe events of March highlighted the continued vulnerabilities which exist in both developed and emerging markets,” commented Michal Lörinc, senior catastrophe analyst at Aon’s Impact Forecasting.

“The multi-billion-dollar impacts from flooding in the United States, Iran, and Cyclone Idai in Southern Africa were each enhanced by infrastructure unable to handle the large scale of water inundation,” he said. “In an increasingly volatile era for weather events and their impacts on a growing exposure, it will be critical that resilience and risk mitigation planning will become more pronounced in the public and private sectors.”

The report listed the major flooding events during March, which included:

  • A major spring storm system from March 12-14 in the United States led to heavy snowfall and rain, record temperatures, severe thunderstorms, and hurricane-force synoptic winds. In the aftermath, historic river flooding swept across the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins through March 28. Total economic losses were estimated beyond US$4 billion, with up to US$1 billion in claims.
  • The combination of heavy rainfall, warming temperatures and melting snow led to flooding in Ontario and Quebec in Canada from March 9-11. Economic losses were estimated at up to C$150 million (US$110 million) and insurers paid up to C$60 million (US$45 million).
  • Torrential rainfall led to flooding throughout Sao Paulo in Brazil from March 10-12, which forced the closing of a prominent auto factory due to water intrusion. From March 15 to April 5, heavy rain also swept across Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador.
  • Weeks of torrential rainfall (from March 17 into early April) led to extensive flooding in dozens of Iranian provinces, killing at least 70 people and injuring 600 more. Total economic losses were unofficially estimated by local government officials at up to 150 trillion Iranian rial (US$3.6 billion).
  • KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa was hit by strong thunderstorms on March 10-12. The worst flooding was noted in KwaMashu, Inanda, and Verulam where at least 10 people died. Further, at least 27 people were left dead or missing in Angola following torrential rains from March 16-19
  • Heavy rains affected six provinces of Afghanistan on March 1-4, damaging 4,000 houses. The same system also brought flooding to Pakistan where at least 25 people died and dozens of houses were damaged.
  • Flooding rains on March 7-10 led to inundation and landslide damage in Indonesia‘s West Manggarai region. Among the worst damage and human cost was in Jayapura Regency.
  • Some 45 people were killed across 13 provinces in Afghanistan on March 30, due to flash flooding and landslides. Nearly 13,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, and thousands of acres of farmland were submerged.
  • Severe thunderstorms swept across parts of Nepal and India on March 31 with the Bara district taking the greatest hit due to damaging winds and heavy rain. Nearly 2,400 homes and 5,800 hectares (14,000 acres) of cropland was damaged.
  • A pre-monsoon thunderstorm struck parts of Bangladesh on March 31, bringing winds, rain and hailstorm to Dhaka.
  • Record 48-hour rainfall caused local flooding along New Zealand’s west coast on March 24-25. Damage to infrastructure and property was expected to reach into the millions (US dollars).

The Aon report described other major catastrophe events during the month including:

  • Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique on March 15 with wind speeds reaching 115 mph. The storm caused storm surge, heavy rain and wind damage, while lingering rainfall led to catastrophic flooding and a humanitarian crisis across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. More than 1,100 people were killed across Southern Africa and hundreds more are missing. More than 3 million people were affected. Total economic damage to infrastructure in Mozambique alone was estimated at US$1 billion.
  • Windstorm Eberhard swept through parts of Western and Central Europe on March 10, bringing widespread damage and disruption. Two people were killed. The storm resulted in nearly one million power outages and tens of thousands of filed property claims. The hardest-hit areas were in Germany. With economic and insured losses minimally expected to reach into the hundreds of millions of euros, Eberhard became the costliest event of the 2018/19 windstorm season in Europe.

Source: Aon’s Impact Forecasting

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