Multiple U.S. severe weather outbreaks, including tornadoes, hail, and flooding, resulted in losses of more than $1 billion for public and private insurers during March, with economic costs approaching $2 billion, according to Aon’s monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of natural disaster events worldwide each month.
The most notable outbreaks – March 22-23, 24-26, and 27-28 – included severe weather across the Central and Southern U.S. A preliminary confirmed total of 122 tornadoes touched down during the month, and at least seven people were killed from tornadic events. Five of the 122 tornadoes were rated EF3 (four) or EF4 (one).
The severe weather was most damaging across parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, and Tennessee, said Aon, noting that, beyond the impact of tornadoes, there were hundreds of reports of large hail and damaging straight-line winds that resulted in extensive property damage.
The storms also prompted significant flooding in parts of the Tennessee Valley, said the report, with at least seven reported fatalities in Tennessee alone, including some in the greater Nashville metro region, after numerous river locations swelled beyond their banks.
Looking at other storm events during March, Aon discussed the damaging winds, thunderstorms, and flooding rains, which swept across eastern Canada and the Canadian Maritimes between March 26-29. The impacts of these storms included flash flooding in the Greater Toronto Area, shoreline flooding along the Great Lakes, ice jams and widespread wind damage. Economic and insured losses were expected to be in the tens of millions of U.S. dollars.
Meanwhile, Windstorms Klaus and Luis, which affected parts of Western and Central Europe on March 10-13 with strong winds. Both storms caused moderate losses, with notable impacts in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, northern France and the United Kingdom. Local insurers faced with tens of thousands of claims.
Michal Lörinc, senior catastrophe analyst for Aon’s Impact Forecasting team, said: “As we transition to the Northern Hemisphere spring months, this is typically a period where focus shifts to the severe convective storm season. However, March is still a time where notable windstorms can affect Europe, and 2021 saw a quick succession of storms Klaus and Luis that left moderate physical damage impacts. While the 2020/21 European windstorm season was not abnormally costly, it remains a peril worth closely monitoring.”
Other worldwide natural hazard events during March include:
- A series of frontal systems and an East Coast Low led to extensive flooding across parts of eastern Australia from March 10-24, killing at least two people. The event resulted in widespread inundation to thousands of properties and swaths of infrastructure and agriculture in New South Wales and Queensland. The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) declared an insurance catastrophe. Approximately 36,000 claims were filed, with an estimated insured loss of A$537 million ($410 million). The overall economic loss is expected to approach $2 billion.
- Persistent seasonal rains and severe weather continued to affect portions of western Colombia throughout the month. At least 53 weather-related fatalities have occurred since Jan. 1. A public calamity was declared in the Valle del Cauca Department due to damage to roadways, homes and crops.
- Heavy rain affected northwestern Algeria (particularly Chlef Province) on March 6, causing flash floods that resulted in casualties and damage. More than 500 families have been affected. Local media reported that 10 people were left dead or missing.
- Severe sand and dust storm conditions affected wide swaths of Mongolia and China from March 12-16. At least 21 people were left dead or missing, millions of livestock were killed and hundreds of yurts were destroyed in Mongolia.
Source: Impact Forecasting/Aon
Photograph: Fallen trees cover the ground by weather-damaged properties in Clanton, Ala., the morning following a large outbreak of severe storms across the southeast, on Thursday, March 18, 2021. Possible tornadoes knocked down trees, toppled power lines and damaged homes in multiple locations across the state of Alabama. Photo credit: AP Photo/Vasha Hunt.
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