September 30th, 2011

Update: Typhoon Nesat

Posted at 8:57 AM ET

nesat-2-smallTyphoon Nesat developed on September 23 to the east of the Philippines and intensified to become the eighth typhoon of the West Pacific typhoon season two days later. Nesat continued to strengthen as it moved west towards the Philippine coast and the storm subsequently made landfall as a category 3 typhoon in the Philippine province of Aurora on September 26 with sustained winds of around 120 mph (195 kmph), according to reports. Following landfall in the Philippines, Nesat moved through the South China Sea and clipped Hainan Island in southern China on September 29  before passing through the narrow Qiongzhou Strait and making its third and final landfall in northern Vietnam as a tropical storm. Nesat brought severe weather to parts of the Philippines and China but early estimates suggest insured losses in both countries will be less than USD150 million.

According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Nesat clipped the north of Hainan Island (near the city of Wenchang) on September 29 as a category 1 typhoon, becoming the strongest tropical cyclone to strike China this year. Reports said the storm subjected Hainan Island and parts of Guangdong Province to strong winds and heavy rain. Reports said Hainan Island was subjected to winds of up to 95 mph (150 kmph) and rainfall of up to 16 inches (400 millimeters). Authorities issued the first red typhoon alert of the year as the storm approached southern regions. They also evacuated around 300,000 people, recalled ships and suspended all flight and ferry services. Although the storm blew down trees and caused rivers to reach flood alert levels across Hainan, little damage was reported in China. EQECAT expects insured losses in China to be less than USD50 million due to low levels of damage and low insurance penetration (EQECAT says there is less than 20 percent insurance penetration in China).

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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.

Hong Kong was also affected by Nesat on September 29 as the storm came within 220 miles (350 kilometers) of the city. Nesat’s strong winds forced the closure of financial markets, schools and transport services. Although no major damage was reported in the city, wind gusts of up to 70 mph (115 kmph) were recorded and around 20 shelters were set up around Hong Kong. About 50 people were evacuated from their flats after a barge slipped its moorings and crashed into nearby railings, according to the public broadcaster. Financial markets, businesses and government offices were all closed after the Hong Kong Observatory posted a Number 8 typhoon warning signal. All ferry services and some bus services were cancelled while trains were operating at a reduced frequency. More than 280 flights were delayed. Macau was also affected, with schools and businesses closed.

Nesat made its final landfall in northern Vietnam at around 06:00 UTC on September 30 as a tropical storm. The JTWC said Nesat pack sustained winds of 60 mph (100 kmph) as it came ashore in Vietnam. Authorities said fishing boats should return to port and urged farmers to harvest crops quickly to reduce potential losses from Nesat. The storm is expected to bring heavy rain to northern Vietnam. Hanoi is in Nesat’s path but it remains too early to assess the impact of the storm on northern Vietnam.

Earlier, Nesat pounded the Philippine main island of Luzon with powerful winds and heavy rain as it came ashore on September 26.  At least 43 people were killed in northern regions of Luzon and around 2 million households lost power at the height of the storm. Parts of northern Luzon, including the provinces of Aurora and Isabela, were subjected to typhoon force winds which destroyed properties, according to reports. A tornado in the town of Maconancon (Isabela Province) ripped off the roofs of at least five houses, injuring two people, police said.

Widespread flooding was reported after Nesat dumped heavy rain (up to 400 millimeters over 24 hours) on rice and corn growing regions in northern Luzon. The governor of Isabela province, Faustino Dy, estimated that up to 20 percent of rice crops in the province may have been damaged by the typhoon. The Department of Agriculture estimates crop damage will total at least 3.3 billion pesos (USD75 million). In its latest damage assessment report, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said around 1 million people were affected by Nesat and some 160,000 of these fled to evacuation centers. In addition, the NDCC said more than 3,300 houses were destroyed by Nesat’s severe weather and another 12,900 were damaged. Officials added that dozens of roads and bridges were damaged due to the heavy rainfall.

Tropical storm force winds were reported across much of Luzon Island, including Manila where financial markets, government offices, transport services and schools were closed. Large parts of the city were without power and officials shut some rail networks as a precaution after strong winds downed power lines and electric posts. A number of flights were also cancelled. Heavy rainfall and high waves also affected Manila. City Mayor Alfredo Lim said huge waves breached the sea wall, allowing water from Manila Bay to engulf wide areas.

Reports said the flooding in some parts of Manila was the worst seen in decades, with the historic quarter facing Manila Bay hit by waist-deep floodwaters. Emergency personnel evacuated thousands of people in low-lying areas of the capital after floodwaters spilled into shanty towns, Manila Hospital, the five star Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel and even the U.S. Embassy compound. Other residents were evacuated after the Marikina River in metro Manila rose to 18 meters (60 feet) and water was released from dams near the capital as they neared overflowing levels. Despite Nesat’s widespread impact in the Philippines, EQECAT said it expects insured losses in the country to be less than USD100 million as most of the damage to agriculture and structures is uninsured.

Separately, Nalgae intensified into the ninth typhoon overnight after it developed in the West Pacific on September 27.  The storm currently packs sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kmph) and is heading towards northern regions of the Philippines on a similar track to Typhoon Nesat. Rainfall from Nalgae will therefore exacerbate the flooding in Luzon caused by Nesat. Current forecasts have Nalgae making landfall in northern Luzon as a category 3 typhoon on September 30 or October 1. Nalgae is then predicted to head towards Hainan Island and northern Vietnam on a similar track to Nesat. Guy Carpenter will continue to closely monitor Nalgae’s progress over the weekend and issue a full report should it cause significant damage.

Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, WSI, Agence France Presse, Reuters News, Kyodo News, Wall Street Journal, 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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