May 27th, 2011

Severe Weather in United States

Posted at 6:23 AM ET

gctornadoimage1Severe weather hit mid-west regions of the United States earlier this week, spawning dozens of tornadoes that killed around 140 people, damaged thousands of buildings and likely caused billions of dollars of insured losses, according to reports. The severe weather also brought strong winds, heavy rain and large hail to several communities. Several states suffered power outages and widespread property and infrastructure damage has been reported. Early estimates suggest insured losses are likely to run into the billions of dollars and come on top of five tornado outbreaks in April that are expected to incur insured losses in excess of USD10 billion, according to preliminary estimates from Property Claim Services (PCS).

The first significant tornado outbreak occurred on 22 May when more than 60 tornadoes struck Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Missouri was particularly badly hit as a single tornado flattened parts of Joplin City. Reports said the tornado, given an Enhanced Fujita scale (EF) rating of 5 with winds in excess of 200 mph (320 kmph), devastated the city as it left a damage track of six miles (10 kilometres) long and almost a mile wide. Reports said the tornado killed at least 125 people and injured 900 more, making it the deadliest to hit the United States since 1947 and the first single tornado to claim more than 100 lives since 1953. As many as 232 people remain unaccounted for, but officials hope the majority will be found alive. According to EQECAT, the tornado initially touched down near the Kansas-Missouri state border before tracking northeast through residential and commercial areas of southwest Joplin. EQECAT said the tornado left catastrophic damage in its wake, destroying thousands of properties. Citing preliminary reports from city officials that indicated that 2,000 buildings were destroyed and another 5,000 to 10,000 buildings were damaged, EQECAT said the Joplin tornado is expected to incur an insured loss of between USD1 billion and USD3 billion.

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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 GC Analytics(SM)representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

Another deadly tornado outbreak occurred in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and northern Texas on 24 May, leaving at least 16 people dead. According to the NWS, around 50 tornadoes touched down on 24 May, causing widespread damage. Oklahoma was badly affected, after ten people were killed, dozens were injured and severe damage was reported near Oklahoma City. According to the NWS, a single tornado (with a preliminary EF3 rating) killed seven people as it left a 75 mile (120 kilometre) path of destruction. Several other tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, prompting Governor Mary Fallin to declare a state of emergency for 68 of the state’s 77 counties. Oklahoma’s Department of Emergency Management said some 58,000 homes lost power during the peak of the storm. Damage was also reported in Arkansas and Kansas. Four people were killed in Arkansas when a tornado swept through the small town of Denning. Two people died in Kansas.

A separate storm system brought severe weather to central regions of the US on 25 May, when more than 90 tornadoes were reported. Dozens of people were injured and some property damage was reported as tornadoes and thunderstorms swept across Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and other states. However, no deaths have been reported so far.

Sources: BBC News, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, Reuters News, CNN News, EQECAT

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Guy Carpenter publishes 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.

Guy Carpenter compiles RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email RISK.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list

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