October 19th, 2010

Update: Typhoon Megi

Posted at 9:09 AM ET

megi2-smallTyphoon Megi is currently located approximately 485 miles (780 kilometers) southeast of Hong Kong, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). The storm has strengthened since exiting the Philippines, with sustained winds currently reaching 115 mph (185 kmph). Megi is slowly tracking west-northwest at 7 mph (11 kmph) and the JTWC now expects the storm to make landfall near Hong Kong on October 23 as a category 2/3 typhoon. The JTWC said typhoon-force winds currently extend around 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the center of the storm while tropical storm-force winds extend around 170 miles (275 kilometers).

Earlier, the JTWC said Megi made landfall in northern Philippines on October 18 as an intense super typhoon. Reports said Megi made landfall southeast of Tuguegarao (population of around 115,000) in the province of Isabela at about 11:25 local time (03:25 UTC), pounding nearby areas with winds of up to 160 mph (260 kmph). Damage assessments from the areas directly in the path of the storm have been slow to emerge after communication lines were cut in many areas, meaning the full extent of damage is still not known. Rescuers have also struggled to reach isolated areas, particularly in the heavily hit coastal communities of Isabela Province that bore the brunt of the typhoon.

megi2-big

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or Instrat® representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

AIR Worldwide has estimated that insured losses in the Philippines from Megi are likely to be less than PHP6.5 billion (USD150 million). AIR’s estimate reflects insured damage to property and contents but crop losses are not included. AIR noted that insurance penetration in the Philippines is estimated to be around 15 percent, and that the storm had missed metropolitan Manila, where the highest concentration of insured properties is located. EQECAT, meanwhile, says the economic damage from Megi is expected to be between USD300 million and USD600 million.

Reports have said the powerful winds, high waves and heavy rain associated with Megi have caused significant damage, with roofs torn off houses, rice crops destroyed and power cut to thousands of households. According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), more than 10,000 people were affected by Megi and around 8,500 of these were forced out of their homes. Officials added that several roads and bridges were damaged after parts of northern Luzon were hit by more than a foot (300 millimeters) of rain. The northeastern provinces of Isabela and Cagayan felt the full force of the severe weather, as remote coastal areas were battered with winds of up to 160 mph (260 kilometers). Reports said houses were destroyed and utility poles were downed, meaning many areas were without power, prompting local officials in Isabela Province to declare a state of calamity. Several roads were also blocked by fallen trees.

Landslides have been reported in mountainous areas while coastal areas have been hit by swells, storm surges and large waves. Reports said Isabela, Cagayan and the other provinces in Megi’s direct path are mostly agricultural and fishing areas, where one of the Philippines’ main rice-growing regions is located. Officials said the strong winds and heavy rain severely damaged crops. The agriculture department said at least 105,000 tonnes of rice as well as 33,000 tonnes of corn was destroyed in the Cagayan river basin, which includes Isabela. Officials added that early estimated losses to rice and corn crops have reached USD36 million.

All forms of transportation were badly disrupted. Several domestic and international flights were cancelled and ships in northern Luzon were told not to leave port. Road transportation was also disrupted as officials in Cagayan Province said rising waters had made many bridges impassable. Four major roads in the provinces of Benguet and Kalinga-Apayao were closed because of a landslide. Authorities have reported 11 deaths so far, including four people in Pangasinan Province. Officials added that three people were drowned in the coastal community of Maconacon (Isabela Province) after a massive storm surge hit the town. At least 20 more people were injured by falling trees, collapsed roofs and shattered glass, officials said. Forecasters said Megi was the strongest storm to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Durian unleashed mudslides that buried entire towns and killed over 1,000 people in 2006.

Although Megi’s powerful winds did not hit the capital of Manila directly, its massive outer rain bands still stretched over much of western Luzon and drenched the city, disrupting traffic and forcing about 1,000 people out of their homes into temporary shelters. Schools were also closed in Manila and other parts of Luzon amid fears of flash floods. Current forecasts suggest Megi will continue to strengthen as it moves in a northwesterly direction across the South China Sea. The latest JTWC forecast track has shifted to the east since yesterday and now predicts Megi will make landfall near Hong Kong on October 23 as a category 2/3 typhoon. The China Meteorological Administration said the typhoon could affect parts of Guangdong and Hainan provinces as it nears the Chinese coastline, prompting authorities to evacuate 140,000 people from coastal communities in Hainan.

Guy Carpenter will continue to closely monitor Megi’s progress over the next few days and issue an updated report later this week.

Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, WSI, Xinhua News Agency, Reuters News, Associated Press, Agence France Presse, BBC News, CNN News, Insurance Day, EQECAT

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Guy Carpenter’s Instrat® department provides CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email CAT.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

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Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or Instrat® representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

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