Here is a look back at the top CAT-i stories for the year 2015.
1. 7.8 Mw Earthquake - Lamjung, Nepal: Nepal experienced a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on April 25, followed by two major aftershocks on April 25 and 26 of magnitude 6.6 and 6.7, respectively, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Media reports indicate at least 5,582 fatalities, 11,200 injuries, and at least eight million people affected. Infrastructure and transportation routes have been severely disrupted and food and water shortages are of great concern. The USGS PAGER service estimates most probable economic losses between USD1 and USD10 billion. It is clear from media reports that impacts have been widespread and of excessive severity and our first thoughts and concerns are with the millions affected by this tragic event.
2. Typhoon Soudelor: Typhoon Soudelor made landfall in Hualien County, Taiwan at about 05:00 CST Saturday (21:00 UTC Friday), with one-minute sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kilometers per hour) according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Soudelor brought excessive rainfall and strong winds to Taiwan, causing inland flooding, mudslides and reports of widespread damage.
3. Winter Storm - January 26 - 28, 2015: The intense coastal storm is now clearing Atlantic Canada and steadily weakening. Blizzard and winter storm warnings have been discontinued, although winter weather advisories remain for select areas of New England. This storm lived up to expectations as an intense, impactful, and historic coastal storm, despite challenges on the forecast track and the especially sharp edge of the snow shield. Blizzard conditions with snowfall amounts of two to three feet affected a widespread area of New England and wind gusts exceeded hurricane force in some areas. The strong winds also produced a storm surge with greatest severity to coastal Massachusetts.
4. 8.3 Mw Earthquake Near Illapel, Chile: Chile experienced an 8.3-magnitude earthquake on September 16, followed by dozens of aftershocks, including one at magnitude 7.0 and seven at magnitude 6.0 or above. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake occurred near the coast of Coquimbo, about 46 kilometers (29 miles) west of Illapel at 19:54 local time. A tsunami warning was issued for the entire coast of Chile but has since been lifted. Initial media reports indicate at least 11 fatalities, although emergency crews are still accessing affected areas. The earthquake has forced more than one million people to evacuate from their homes and electrical power was cut off to 240,000 households. Heavy waves following the earthquake caused flooding in coastal towns although most buildings were reported to hold up well. The USGS pager service estimates most probable economic losses between USD 100 million and USD 1 billion. Our first thoughts and concerns are with those directly affected by this event.
5. U.S. Texas and Oklahoma Flooding: Another round of heavy thunderstorms and intense rainfall affected the Southern Plains over the weekend. This follows a month of excessive rainfall in the area, with frequent periods of organized and slow-moving intense thunderstorms. Widespread and severe flooding has affected many areas, including flash flooding in both the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas. Many area rivers have yet to crest after the last round of heavy rainfall.
6. Hurricane Patricia: Hurricane Patricia made landfall on the Pacific Coast of Mexico as a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Patricia was a compact storm, and made landfall in an area of relatively low population density. Reported impacts in the immediate landfall area are severe. However, the track and compact nature of Patricia appears to have spared Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo and Guadalajara from the most severe impacts, according to media reports.
7. U.S. South Carolina Flooding: Torrential rainfall in South Carolina led to catastrophic flooding throughout the state over the weekend, claiming the lives of at least nine people. Large swaths of the state have experienced over 20 inches of rain in the past week with another two to six inches forecasted through Monday, according to the state climatologist.
8. Tropical Storm Bill: Tropical Storm Bill made landfall at about 11:45 CDT (16:45 UTC) yesterday on Matagorda Island, Texas, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Maximum sustained winds at landfall were 60 mph according to the NHC. Bill inflicted storm force winds, a storm surge of at least three feet and heavy rainfall to an area still saturated from the excessive rains of last month.
9. Valley and Butte Wildfires - United States: Central and Northern California, two wildfires have consumed over 133,000 acres and destroyed at least 750 homes and ten businesses in a matter of days. The fires have altogether displaced at least 23,000, according to media sources, and a state of emergency has been declared for affected areas by Governor Jerry Brown. Nearly 6,400 firefighters have been mobilized to combat the two fires, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).
10. Winter Storm - December 26 - 29, 2015: A complex frontal system has rendered significant impacts to the Southern, Southwestern, and Midwestern States, with an ongoing threat from the Midwest to the Saint Lawrence Valley to the Northeast. The system brought severe thunderstorms to the Northern Gulf states, with a confirmed EF-4 tornado affecting the Dallas area, causing several fatalities and extensive structural damage. Excessive rainfall has produced significant and historic flooding in the Central Mississippi Valley. Significant winter weather including heavy snow and ice continues to threaten areas from the Midwest to the Northeast, after nearly 40 inches of snowfall in New Mexico and over half an inch of ice reported from Texas to Illinois. Significant power outages have been reported for some areas. Transportation disruption has been especially severe for both land and air.