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Late February U.S. Severe Weather Outbreak Leads to Damage Losses

Source: Aon

Posted on 07 Mar 2012

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Aon Benfield, the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon Corporation, today releases its latest Global Catastrophe Recap report, which analyzes the natural disaster perils that occurred worldwide during February.

Published by Impact Forecasting, the firm's catastrophe model development center of excellence, the report reveals that a powerful storm system resulted in a severe weather outbreak across parts of the central and eastern United States at the end of February, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 200 others.

The U.S. Storm Prediction Center (SPC) confirmed at least 36 tornado touchdowns and hail and damaging winds in more than 10 states, with total economic and insured losses likely to reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars (USD). The outbreak was highlighted by an EF-4 tornado in Harrisburg, Illinois that caused considerable damage.

Steve Jakubowski, President of Impact Forecasting, said: "As the calendar turns into March, the U.S. is entering the start of severe weather season, which is a period where increased activity is historically found across central and eastern sections of the country. Following last year's record number of tornado-related casualties and the nearly USD26 billion in insured losses sustained due to severe weather events, there is a heightened sense of awareness for the peril in 2012."

According to the report, Eastern Europe continued to be impacted by extreme cold and snow during the first half of February, leading to the deaths of at least 824 people. Total economic losses in Serbia alone were estimated at EUR500 million (USD660 million), with even higher losses anticipated as impacts from a frozen Danube River were realized.

Winter weather also led to damage and fatalities in parts of Asia. In China, separate blizzards in Tibet caused upwards of CNY157.5 million (USD25 million) in economic damages, while heavy snowfall led to avalanches in India, killing at least 16 people.

Flooding was prevalent during the month, with parts of southwest Queensland and northern New South Wales in Australia sustaining the most noteworthy impacts. The Insurance Council of Australia declared a catastrophe, with at least 5,657 claims filed and payouts in excess of AUD111 million (USD120 million).

Elsewhere, floods caused widespread damage and reports of fatalities in Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Bulgaria, Greece, the Philippines and Canada.

In the central Philippines, a magnitude-6.7 earthquake left at least 116 people dead or missing and injured 112 more. Extensive damage was reported to homes and infrastructure, and total economic losses were estimated to approach PHP42.2 billion (USD1 billion), with total insured losses expected to be around PHP4.22 billion (USD100 million).

Cyclone Giovanna made landfall in central Madagascar, killing at least 35 people and injuring 81 others. Widespread damage was prevalent throughout the island with more than 50,000 homes and other structures damaged or destroyed. The cyclone also left heavy damage to infrastructure and agriculture across 686 separate districts. Total economic losses were estimated at approximately MGA220 billion (USD100 million).