July 27th, 2010

2Q 2010: Recap of Natural Catastrophe Events

Posted at 1:00 AM ET

Hurricane Alex: Hurricane Alex made landfall near Soto La Marina and La Pesca in Mexico’s Tamaulipas State at around 02:00 UTC on July 1 (22:00 on June 30 local time) with sustained winds of around 105 mph (165 kmph), equivalent to a category 2 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The NHC said Alex was the first hurricane to reach category 2 status in June in the Atlantic since Hurricane Alma in 1966. At landfall, the NHC said hurricane-force winds extended 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the center of the storm while tropical storm-force winds extended 205 miles (335 kilometers), the NHC said. Early estimates of insured losses suggest the insurance industry could payout between USD100 million and USD200 million for the damage caused by Alex.

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Floods in Southeast France: Heavy rain on June 15-16 has triggered severe flash floods in southeastern France, killing at least 22 people according to the latest estimates from local authorities. The damage and disruption has been widespread, with hundreds of homes inundated and thousands reported to be without electricity or phone lines. Officials said around 10 people remain missing and they fear the death toll could rise. The southeastern province of Alpes Cote d’Azur has been particularly badly affected, with officials in the Var department saying that damage is severe. Reports said that between 1,500 and 2,500 people were forced to evacuate their homes and spend the night in schools or other temporary shelters, and some 104,000 houses remain without electricity in the aftermath of the flooding.

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Floods in Central and Eastern Europe: Heavy rain has triggered severe floods in parts of central and eastern Europe since mid-May, killing at least 18 people, inundating homes and businesses and causing widespread damage and disruption. Parts of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic have been flooded after days of heavy rain burst river defenses and inundated low-lying areas. The heavy rain was accompanied by strong winds, causing power outages and transportation disruption. Reports said southern Poland was the worst-affected area after the Vistula River burst its banks. Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the damage caused by the flooding could cost around EUR2.6 billion (USD3.2 billion).

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Severe Weather in United States: Severe weather in southern regions of the United States spawned several tornadoes over the weekend, causing widespread property damage and killing at least 12 people. The storms affected the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. The dead included 10 people in rural Mississippi and 2 others in Alabama while at least 70 people were injured. A state of emergency has been declared in 17 Mississippi counties and reports said hundreds of properties have been destroyed or damaged.

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Earthquake in China: A powerful earthquake hit a remote region in western China at 23:49 UTC on April 13 (07:49 on April 14 local time), destroying buildings, damaging infrastructure and killing at least 400 people. The earthquake, measuring 6.9 Mw, was located between China’s Qinghai Province and the Tibet Autonomous Region, some 28 miles (45 kilometers) northwest of Yushu and 235 miles (375 kilometers) south-southeast of Golmud, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS added that the quake had a shallow depth of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) and it was the strongest earthquake to hit the region since 1976. At least 18 aftershocks have hit the area since the main earthquake, the most powerful at 5.8 Mw.

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7.2 Mw Earthquake in Baja California, Mexico: A severe storm battered Perth and its suburbs with powerful winds, large hailstones and heavy rain on March 22, causing damage to buildings and vehicles and cutting power to tens of thousands of homes, according to reports. The storm cell hit the Perth metropolitan area late on March 22, bringing wind gusts of over 120 kmph (75 mph), golf-ball sized hail and up to 65 mm (2.5 inches) of rainfall. Officials said the storm’s trail of destruction extends from Joondalup down through the western suburbs and further south to Mandurah. Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett declared the city a natural disaster zone and estimated the damage bill will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The Insurance Council of Australia has also declared the event an insurance catastrophe. The Council says it is too early to place an estimate on the cost or the number of claims, but it should have a better idea within the next 48 hours.

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