Severe storms in the U.S. led to the greatest number of February tornadoes since 2008, according to the latest monthly Global Catastrophe Report from Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting.
Damage from tornadoes, straight-line winds and large hail was noted in the Plains, Midwest, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Meanwhile, the eastern U.S. was hit by an extended period of subzero temperatures, heavy snow, flooding and severe weather. Combined economic losses in the U.S. were expected to top $1 billion, with the insurance industry facing losses well into the hundreds of millions.
The Southern Hemisphere registered its strongest tropical cyclone on record, the report said. Tropical Cyclone Winston had maximum sustained winds of 185 mph and made landfall on Fiji’s largest and most populated island (Viti Levu), killing at least 44 people and damaging or destroying more than 24,000 homes. Total economic losses from the category 5 storm were estimated at $470 million, and insurers expect claims to reach $47 million.
Other February catastrophes include:
- Windstorms Norkys and Ruzica—known locally as Henry and Imogen—brought high winds and coastal flooding to portions of Ireland and the United Kingdom, with total combined economic losses from both storms estimated at $175 million.
- A magnitude 6.4 earthquake in Taiwan killed at least 117 people and injured 550 others. Damage was most significant in the city of Tainan, where several multistory buildings collapsed. The Taiwan government allocated $750 million for recovery and reconstruction, while the Financial Supervisory Commission cited preliminary insured losses at $8 million.
- Worsening droughts in Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Thailand and Haiti resulted in almost $9 billion in economic losses.
For a regional breakdown of February’s catastrophes, see the full Global Catastrophe Report from Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting.