The Americas accounted for 57 percent of global losses in 2014, compared to 48 percent in 2013, 87 percent in 2012 and 26 percent in 2011. Man-made incidents included the explosion of an unmanned supply rocket in October in Virginia, the October crash of the Virgin Galactic spaceship in California and the Chevron Phillips refinery fire in Texas in July.
The first natural catastrophes of 2014 included the severe arctic weather outbreak of early January, which brought a significant intrusion of deep cold to eastern North America. The snow and excessive cold affected transportation and infrastructure across a widespread area, together with water damage from fractured water pipes for many homeowners in the Southern United States. Subsequent winter storms in February brought significant icing events across Georgia and South Carolina, including a major ice storm that virtually immobilized the Atlanta region. While the winter of 2014 was not unprecedented, it was among the coldest 30 winters for many states. The cold winter of 2014 caused insured losses of around USD2.3 billion.(1)
With the onset of the severe convective season, there were a number of outbreaks affecting the United States and Canada. Severe weather outbreaks in Canada brought an EF-2 tornado to Angus, Ontario in June, a significant hailstorm to Airdrie, Alberta in August, and significant flooding to Saskatchewan in June. The Airdrie hail event rendered significant insured losses of around CAD450 million.(2)
Further south in the United States, a notable severe convective outbreak occurred April 27 to May 1, affecting most of the Eastern United States. According to the US National Weather Service, the event spawned confirmed EF-3 tornadoes in the areas of Tupelo and Jackson, Mississippi and EF-4 tornadoes in Mayflower, Arkansas and Louisville, Mississippi. This event rendered USD1.1 billion in insured losses.(3) A later event affected the area south of the Great Lakes from May 18 to May 23, with insured losses of around USD2.9 billion.(4) This event saw multiple reports of hail exceeding two inches in diameter (five centimeters) in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and another report in Illinois of four inch (ten centimeter) hailstones. Despite these notable severe weather outbreaks, overall hail reports for 2014 were below the 2005 to 2013 average. 2014 preliminary tornado reports were also well below average.(5)
1. Munich Re press release, January 7, 2015.
2. Insurance Bureau of Canada as reported by Claims Canada, October 2014.
3. Munich Re press release, July 9, 2014.
4. Munich Re NatCat Service, “10 Costliest Disasters 2014,” January 2015.
5. US Storm Prediction Center Local Storm Reports. www.spc.noaa.gov