U.S. Tornadoes, Hail and Winds Reach Highest Levels Since 2011: Aon Report

June 10, 2019

The U.S. dealt with close to 4,400 reports of tornadoes, hail and straight-line winds in May, the most since 2011, according to weather data cited by Aon’s monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report.

According to the report, the weather situation involved no fewer than seven outbreaks of severe convective storms across central and eastern parts of the United States.

Tornadoes also made a significant impact, with more than 362 hitting the U.S. during May. That’s the highest since 2015, when 381 tornado events hit during the month.

“Historically, May has been the most active month for tornadoes in the United States and 2019 was no exception, with the highest May tally since 2015,” Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist within Aon’s Impact Forecasting team, said in prepared remarks. “A persistent weather pattern led to several multi-day outbreaks of severe weather that resulted in tornadoes, large hail, damaging straight-line winds, and record-breaking rainfall which had a considerable impact on property and the agricultural sector.”

Bowen said that severe convective storms have led to at least $10 billion in U.S. insurance payouts annually since 2008, adding that it is likely to happen again in 2019.

Other major global weather events during May included:

  • Cyclone Fani made landfall in India as a Category 4 storm on May 3 and caused an estimated US$2 billion direct economic cost. The Indian insurance industry preliminarily expected payouts to reach US$500 million.
  • Since the official start of Canada’s wildfire season on March 1, more than 502 wildfires were ignited in Alberta. Nearly 530,000 hectares (1.3 million acres) of land has already burned, with more than 370,000 hectares (914,000 acres) charred alone between May 12-31.
  • An ongoing drought in China’s Yunnan Province that affected more than 273,000 hectares (675,000 acres) of cropland, causing $138 million in damages.
  • Prolonged rainfall in much of Paraguay, leading to widespread flooding that killed at least six people, led to the evacuation of over 40,000 residents, and caused significant harm to the cattle industry.
  • An outbreak of severe weather impacted portions of Southern Europe, with abundant rainfall overflowing rivers in the Emilia-Romagna region and inundating around 600 homes and businesses, and adjacent agricultural land. The same weather system also affected the Balkans.
  • Heavy rains in the Arabian Peninsula, causing flooding made worse by poor infrastructure. Six people were killed in Yemen alone, including in parts of Sanaa, while at least six people went missing after being swept away by flash flooding in the Wadi Bani Khalid in Oman. Flood waters swept away one person in Saudi Arabia.
  • Heavy rainfall caused localized flooding in Tanzania, with Dar es Salaam and the Mbeya region hardest hit. Five people died, thousands were displaced, and more than 1,000 homes were flooded.

Source: Aon’s Impact Forecasting

A version of this article first appeared in Insurance Journal’s sister publication, Carrier Management.

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