Canadian Underwriter

Economic losses from storms in Alberta, B.C. expected to exceed $225 million in total: Aon Benfield

September 3, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter

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Total economic losses from severe thunderstorms and flooding rains in Alberta in early August are expected to exceed $125 million, while a strong storm system that battered parts of British Columbia was expected to exceed $100 million in economic losses, according to Aon Benfield’s Global Catastrophe Recap report for August.

Two days of storms in Alberta caused total insured losses in excess of $100 million and total economic losses of about $125 million

“A slow-moving storm system brought consecutive days of severe thunderstorms and flooding rains to Canada’s Alberta province, including in the greater Calgary metro region,” said the report from Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team, said in the report, released on Thursday. “Large hail, high winds and flood inundation was blamed on widespread damage to homes, businesses and automobiles.”

The report noted that while the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reported that total insured losses were expected to exceed $100 million, total economic losses were even higher at $125 million.

Related: Early-August storm in Alberta causes insured damage of upwards of $100 million

Also during August, numerous wildfires burned across B.C., the worst being the Rock Creek Fire, which damaged or destroyed 30 homes and 15 other structures. The province spent $255 million to fight the fires. Impact Forecasting added that the western third of the United States, southern and central portions of Europe and B.C. all suffered “damaging wildfire outbreaks during August.” The costs of fighting the fires soared to well beyond US$1 billion globally.

Also in B.C., a strong storm system on Aug. 29 and 30 battered the province, as hurricane-force winds downed trees and led to more than 533,000 power outages. “Widespread damage was noted to residential, commercial and automobiles, primarily as a result of the downed trees and power lines,” the report said, adding that total economic losses are expected to exceed US$100 million.

In the United States, severe drought conditions persisted in western regions with total economic losses expected to reach at least US$3 billion, mostly attributable to agricultural damage in California, Impact Forecasting said in a release. Several Caribbean and Central American nations issued alerts as droughts worsened.

As El Niño continues to intensify in the coming months, it is expected that global drought losses will surpass the current forecast of US$8 billion in economic damage, Impact Forecasting said.

Related: Community resilience centre set up for those affected by wildfires in B.C.

“As we continue to see the prospect of El Niño becoming one of the strongest in decades, more and more impacts will be apparent around the world,” said Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting associate director and meteorologist, in the release. “This is already true in the form of global drought losses, as several countries have endured a severe lack of rainfall and agricultural impacts. On the flip side, tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific Ocean maintained its torrid pace in August due to above-average sea surface temperatures and favourable atmospheric conditions.”

Elsewhere during August, Super Typhoon Soudelor tracked through Saipan, Taiwan, and China, causing economic losses in excess of US$3.2 billion. Soudelor was followed by Typhoon Goni which wrought havoc in the Philippines, the Korean peninsula, and Japan, killing at least 70 people, damaging tens of thousands of homes and causing economic losses well into the hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars.

Other natural hazard events that occurred during August included:

• Tropical Storm Erika impacted Dominica, Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, killing 36 people and causing economic losses of approximately US$100 million;

• Heavy monsoon rains killed hundreds of people throughout Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar;

• Record U.S. flooding in the greater Tampa, Florida metro region (some regions received more than 508 millimetres of rain) caused widespread property and automobile damage;

• A severe weather outbreak prompted economic losses of US$475 million and insured losses of US$325 million in the U.S., mainly due to hail and damaging straight-line winds;

• China experienced two severe weather outbreaks that prompted economic losses of more than US$340 million;

• Severe weather killed 20 people in Sudan; and

• Heatwave conditions throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa killed at least 125 people.