April 9th, 2015

The Americas Catastrophe Losses 2014: Part II

Posted at 1:00 AM ET

Regarding tropical cyclone activity, the North Atlantic Basin experienced six hurricanes and two major hurricanes in close agreement with the 1954 to 2013 mean, following a slow start to the season.

Only one hurricane in the North Atlantic Basin made landfall on the North American mainland. The first hurricane of the season, Hurricane Arthur, made landfall along the North Carolina Outer Banks, but did not render widespread or excessive damage. It is possible that damage would have been more substantial if Arthur had moved further inland. Estimated insured losses from Hurricane Arthur were less than USD250 million.(1)

Two other hurricanes, Fay and Gonzalo, affected Bermuda in close succession, with the eye of Gonzalo passing directly over Bermuda (a rare event). Damage rendered from Gonzalo included downed trees and powerlines with disrupted infrastructure. Some structural damage was also reported but the resilient building codes of Bermuda averted more exceptional damage.

Turning to the East Pacific, 2014 was the most active year since 1992, with 16 hurricanes and nine major hurricanes. One of these hurricanes, Iselle, ultimately made landfall as a tropical storm on the Kau coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, but did not render significant losses. Iselle is the first tropical storm to make landfall on the big island in over 50 years.

Hurricane Odile was the most impactful hurricane to affect the Americas in 2014. Odile made landfall directly into the Baja Peninsula of Mexico near Cabo San Lucas in September. This resort area sustained damage of a very severe nature to both structures and infrastructure with insured loss estimates around USD1.6 billion.(2) Odile was a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale at landfall.


In 2014, earthquakes affected Chile and Mexico with a magnitude 7.3 tremor near the Nicaragua-El Salvador border. Another earthquake affected the Napa Valley in California in September. The earthquake, a magnitude 6.0, rendered damage to areas including Napa City, Vallejo and Mare Island. The 2014 geologic year also was an active one for the Kilaue volcano in Hawaii, with a notable and potentially impactful lava flow in 2015.

Link to Part I>>

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1. RMS Event Response. Hurricane Arthur, July 17, 2014.

2. Swiss Re press release, December 17, 2014.

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