Severe winter storms in the U.S. and Asia caused an estimated $4.0 billion in economic damages, topping the list of January catastrophes, according to a monthly recap from Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting.
A powerful winter storm rocked the eastern U.S. Jan. 21-24, bringing significant snow, high winds, coastal flooding, freezing rain, ice and severe thunderstorms. States of emergency were declared in 11 states and Washington, D.C. as the storm caused widespread damage, business interruption and substantial disruption to travel. Total economic losses were estimated to exceed $2.0 billion, while insured losses were projected to reach well into the hundreds of millions. The storm left 58 people dead and injured dozens of others.
East Asia saw a prolonged period of Arctic cold and snowfall from Jan. 20-26, which caused significant damage and killed at least 116 people. Total combined economic losses were nearly $2.0 billion, with China incurring $1.6 billion of the cost. Taiwan’s agriculture industry sustained its highest losses resulting from winter weather in 17 years at $127 million.
Aon Benfield’s other catastrophe news:
- A series of storm systems fueled by El Niño brought severe weather including heavy rainfall and snow to portions of California early in the month, causing flooding and mudslides. Total economic losses were estimated to exceed $125 million, while insurers listed payouts in excess of $65 million.
- Heavy rains prompted flooding in parts of South America, killing at least 12 people and destroying more than 15,000 homes. Total combined economic losses were in excess of $110 million.
- A magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck northeast India on Jan. 3, killing 22 people and leaving nearly 300 others injured. Total economic losses were at least $75 million.
- Windstorm Marita—known locally as Gertrude—brought hurricane-force winds and heavy rain across northern portions of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Scandinavia on Jan. 29-30. Total economic and insured losses were expected to exceed $100 million.
- Severe drought conditions and wildfires enhanced by effects from El Niño continued across South Africa. Western Cape province reported that new damage to the agricultural industry was anticipated to reach $250 million.
For more of January’s catastrophe results, see Aon Benfield’s full Global Catastrophe Recap.
Source: Aon Benfield