October 21st, 2010

Update: Typhoon Megi

Posted at 8:51 AM ET

megi3-smallTyphoon Megi is currently located approximately 280 miles (450 kilometers) southeast of Hong Kong, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). The storm has weakened over the last 24 hours, with sustained winds currently reaching 110 mph (175 kmph), equivalent to a category 2 typhoon. Megi is slowly tracking north at 6 mph (10 kmph) and the JTWC now expects the storm to make landfall in the Chinese province of Fujian on October 23 UTC as a category 1 typhoon. The JTWC said typhoon-force winds currently extend around 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the center of the storm while tropical storm-force winds extend around 205 miles (330 kilometers).

Due to its size, forecasters expect Megi to threaten a large stretch of the Chinese coast as it moves through the South China Sea. The JTWC said it now expects landfall to be well to the northeast of Hong Kong, with Fujian Province most at risk. Megi is predicted to weaken as it encounters increased sheer as it nears the Chinese coast, but the JTWC expects the storm to maintain its typhoon status prior to landfall. The latest JTWC forecast has the storm coming ashore to the south of Yunxiao City in Fujian Province as a category 1 typhoon. The China Meteorological Administration said the typhoon could affect parts of Guangdong, Hainan, Guangxi, Fujian and Hong Kong as it nears the Chinese coastline.

megi3-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.

Waves of up to 20 feet (6 meters) have already been recorded along the coastline of Guangdong, prompting officials to move around 10,000 residents to high ground and shelters. As many as 200,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas in Hainan. Further east in Fujian Province, officials said more than 150,000 people have moved to shelters. Ports and oil terminals in Hong Kong and southern China have been shut down while oil platforms in the eastern part of the South China Sea have also been evacuated. According to EQECAT, Megi is expected to cause economic damage of between USD500 million and USD1 billion in China. EQECAT adds that insured losses in the country are expected to be far less, given that insurance penetration is relatively low (around 15 percent) in China.

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 are starting to emerge, with officials reporting thousands of homes damaged and vast areas of rice and corn fields inundated.

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 in the Philippines is expected to be between USD200 million and USD500 million.

Reports said the powerful winds, high waves and heavy rain associated with Megi caused significant damage in the Philippines, 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 1 million people were affected by Megi and around 330,000 of these were forced out of their homes. In addition, the NDCC said more than 8,000 houses were destroyed by Megi’s ferocious wind and another 14,000 were damaged. Officials added that several roads and bridges were damaged after parts of northern Luzon were hit by more than a foot (300 millimetres) 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. Officials in Isabela Province said 80 percent of houses in four coastal towns were damaged or destroyed, prompting them to declare that Megi was the worst typhoon to hit the area in nearly 20 years.

Landslides were reported in mountainous areas while coastal areas were 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 315,000 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 PHP7.6 billion (USD175 million).

All forms of transportation were badly disrupted in the Philippines. 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 19 deaths so far, including six 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 another 28 people were injured by falling trees, collapsed roofs and shattered glass, officials said. Forecasters said Megi was the strongest storm to develop in the Northwest Pacific since 1990.

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.

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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