Canadian Underwriter

Typhoons in September cost global economy more than US$4 billion: Aon

October 6, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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Tropical cyclones throughout the world in September have cost the global economy more than US$4 billion, according to the latest edition of Aon Benfield’s Global Catastrophe Recap report, released on Thursday.

China Typhoon

A man carries belongings away from a destroyed structure after a typhoon in Xiamen in southeastern China’s Fujian province Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. Typhoon Meranti, labeled the strongest storm so far this year by Chinese and Taiwanese weather authorities, made landfall in southeastern China early Thursday after previously affecting Taiwan. (Chinatopix via AP)

The Global Catastrophe Recap, from Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team, evaluated the impact of natural disaster events that occurred worldwide in September.

In mid-September, a weakened Super Typhoon Meranti made landfall in China’s Fujian Province after first grazing southern Taiwan and the northern Philippines province of Batanes, Impact Forecasting noted in a press release. At least 44 people were killed and dozens more were injured, as more than 70,000 homes and vast cropland was damaged or destroyed. Overall economic losses were US$2.4 billion, with the vast majority reported in China (US$2.3 billion).

Other notable tropical cyclones during September included Typhoon Megi (US$940 million), Typhoon Malakas (US$100 million), and Hurricane Newton (US$10 million).

Related: Meranti southeast China’s most powerful typhoon in decades

Also in September, Hurricane Hermine became the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in more than a decade when it came ashore as a Category 1 strength storm near St. Marks, Fl., bringing torrential rain and storm surge flooding to coastal sections of the southeast and mid-Atlantic. Hermine was the first hurricane to strike the state of Florida since Hurricane Wilma in October 2005.

Hermine claimed at least three lives as flooding and high winds caused widespread damage and hundreds of thousands of power outages in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, with additional disruption and minor damage reported in New York and New Jersey, the release said. Total economic losses were estimated at above US$800 million, while public and private insurers anticipated insured losses of around US$400 million.

Related: Insured losses in mainland China from Typhoon Meranti between US$650 million and US$1.15 billion: AIR

“After more than a decade without a landfalling hurricane, Hermine has highlighted the potential risks faced by the state of Florida,” said Adam Podlaha, global head of Impact Forecasting, in the release. “The past 11 years have been unusually inactive for the state, but it was a matter of time before it was faced with a landfalling event given the state’s longer-term historical trends. With the general increase in coastal populations, event preparedness is paramount, and in this regard the insurance industry and catastrophe modellers are well positioned to help residents understand their exposures.”

In Canada, a slow-moving area of low pressure prompted heavy rainfall in Ontario from Sept. 28-30, causing widespread flooding. Most of the major damage to property and vehicles was noted in the Essex County cities and regions of Windsor, Tecumseh and Leamington, the report said. Total economic and insured losses were expected to reach well into the tens of millions in U.S. dollars.

Related: Insured losses from Hurricane Hermine will likely not exceed US$400 million: RMS

Other natural disaster events that occurred worldwide in September include:

  • A magnitude-5.9 earthquake struck Tanzania, killing at least 23 people and injuring 600 others, while four more casualties were reported from neighbouring Uganda. The government said that US$458 million was needed for recovery efforts in the Kagera region;
  • Torrential downpours in India’s Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states led to catastrophic flooding, killing at least 28 people. Local officials reported economic damage totalling US$479 million;
  • The Soberanes Fire continued to burn in California’s Los Padres National Forest throughout September, after first igniting on July 22. The blaze became the most expense fire to fight in U.S. history (US$235 million) and burned a total of 132,092 acres (53,455 hectares);
  • Rounds of severe thunderstorms led to nearly three-dozen fatalities and more than US$300 million in economic losses around the globe. China and Nigeria were particularly impacted; and
  • Excessive rainfall and strong thunderstorms from Sept. 19-23 led to widespread riverine flooding in parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, killing at least two people. Several rivers swelled to well above normal levels and exceeded major flood stage. Damage to property, vehicles, agriculture and infrastructure was notable in a number of regions. States of emergency were declared in Iowa and Wisconsin, with total economic losses expected to exceed US$100 million.