The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is over, and in terms of severity, it was officially a dud. In parts of the Pacific, however, cyclone formation was robust, hitting Hawaii, Japan and India. But their property damage reach was relatively limited.
For both, we have the latest Pacific El Niño cycle to thank, Munich Re pointed out in a new research report.
Munich Re estimated just over $20 billion in economic damage as of November 2014 from tropical cyclones, versus an average $57 billion (after adjustments for inflation) over the previous decade. Similarly, insured losses from cyclones as of the end of the hurricane season should hit $3 billion, down from a $24 billion average in the past 10 years.
As Munich Re noted, Cyclone Hudhud caused the worst damage in India in early October, with overall losses of about $7 billion.
By mid-2015, the situation could be much different, Munich Re said. A warm El Niño phase can affect weather patterns around the world, leading to lower Atlantic hurricanes and changes in cyclone activity, among other alterations. According to the reinsurer’s predictions, the now-weak Pacific El Niño cycle should hold steady until mid-2015 and then become neutralized as weather patterns change.
In part, that means hurricanes could return in full force. This also points to a potentially rough tornado season this spring, Munich Re said.
“If neutral [El Niño] conditions predominate again from mid-2015, there will no longer be any curtailing effect on hurricanes in the Atlantic,” Peter Höppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, said in a prepared statement. “As El Niño conditions are still probable at the height of the tornado season in the U.S.A. (March to May), the likelihood of a more active tornado season in the U.S.A. is higher.”
That doesn’t mean that this year’s hurricane and cyclone seasons didn’t cause damage.
Beyond Cyclone Hudhud in India, Hawaii sustained some losses from one of the many cyclones that formed in the East Pacific. Baja California dealt with major destruction from Hurricane Odile, and various cyclones did their damage in Japan.
Source: Munich Re