atlantic storms impact midwest JRA Insurance

Hurricanes Big Impact

North Atlantic Hurricanes Have Big Impact on Midwest

With the Nov. 30 end of the 2014 hurricane season just weeks away, a University of Iowa researcher and his colleagues have found that North Atlantic tropical cyclones in fact have a significant effect on the Midwest. Their research appears in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Gabriele Villarini, UI assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, studied the discharge records collected at 3,090 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream gauge stations from 1981 to 2011 and found that the effects of North Atlantic tropical cyclones impact large areas of the United States away from Florida, the East Coast and the Gulf Coast.

“When you hear about hurricanes or tropical cyclones you think about storm surges and wind damage near the coast,” says Villarini, who also conducts research at the internationally renowned IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering. “But it’s much more than that. Flooding from a single tropical cyclone often impacts 10 to 15 states located hundreds of miles from the coast and covering a wide area.

“Our results indicate that flooding from tropical cyclones affects large areas of the United States and the Midwest, as far inland as Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan,” says Villarini.

“The USGS stream gauges, located east of the Rocky Mountains, showed that tropical cyclones can cause major flooding over the Midwest, including the southeastern corner of Iowa,” he says.

Villarini and his colleagues conducted their study by relating maximum water discharges recorded by USGS stream gauges with the passage of the storms over the Midwest and eastern states. Accordingly, they were able to construct maps for each storm that show the relationship between inland flooding and tropical cyclones.

Despite these important impacts, inland tropical cyclone flooding has received little attention in the scientific literature, although the news media have begun to pay more attention following Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, he says.

Villarini says that the amount of financial damage caused by the storms in the Midwest and the eastern United States will be the subject of a future study.

Villarini’s colleagues areRadoslaw Goska of IIHR, James A. Smith of Princeton University, and Gabriel A. Vecchi of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey.

The research paper, “North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones and U.S. Flooding,” can be found in the September issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society at

Funding for Villarini and Goska was provided by the Iowa Flood Center and IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering. Villarini also notes support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources. James Smith acknowledges support from the Willis Research Network and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Institute for Climate Sciences.
Source Newswire

Cyclone Hudhud

Damages Reach $650M

Cyclone Hudhud

A report released Wednesday by Aon P.L.C.’s Aon Benfield Group Ltd.’s Impact Forecasting finds that Cyclone Hudhud caused insured losses of $650 million in India.  The cyclone, which killed 68 people across four states in India after making landfall Oct. 12, caused an estimated $11 billion in economic losses.

Steve Bowen, associate director at Impact Forecasting, noted that while the United States is close to completing another year without a significant hurricane event, insurers in Asia are coping with a series of cyclones that have led to considerable damage in India and Japan.

“The past two years of cyclone landfalls in Asia, including such storms as Fitow, Haiyan, Hudhud, Phalin, and Rammasun, have shown that tropical cyclones are becoming an increasingly costly peril for insurers with exposures outside of the U.S,” Mr. Bowen said in a statement.


hurricane Gonzolo

Damages Reach $300M

Hurricane Gonzolo

Bermuda’s building stock showed its resilience after hurricane Gonzalo made a direct hit on the mid-Atlantic island on Friday. Gonzalo’s eye passed directly over Bermuda, becoming one of only three storms of category two strength or greater to pass directly over the island since modern records began. Having fluctuated between category three and four intensity in its run-up to Bermuda, the storm began to weaken before reaching the island but remained a major hurricane as the first impact of its winds were felt.

Scott Stransky, principal scientist at AIR Worldwide, said: “When the eye began to come onshore, the storm was still category three with 115 mph winds, but by the time the very centre passed overhead, Gonzalo had weakened to category two, with 110 mph winds.” Stransky said reports of severe structural damage are so far scarce, with Bermuda’s strictly enforced building code meaning properties are constructed to withstand storms similar in strength to Gonzalo.

“Damage may also have been mitigated by the very fact the very large – and very calm – eye of Gonzalo passed over Bermuda, which reduced the total number of hours of significant winds. Nevertheless, roof damage – ranging from a few blown-off tiles to, in some cases, loss of nearly the entire roof – is fairly widespread.” In the hours running up to Gonzalo’s arrival on the island, the storm had been expected to pass slightly to the west of Bermuda, which would have left it exposed to Gonzalo’s stronger right side.

The last storm to cause a significant insured loss in Bermuda was 2003’s hurricane Fabian, which cost the industry around $300m. AIR has estimated Fabian would cost around $650m were it to occur today, although the modeling firm said winds from Gonzalo were slightly below those observed from Fabian 11 years ago. AIR said among the more notable buildings to sustain roof damage were the House of Assembly, the police headquarters, the Visitor Centre in St Georges and both the old and new wings of the hospital. Damage was also sustained at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, where the sheet metal roof of an exhibit hall was torn off. Insured losses are also likely to come from damage to sailing boats and yachts, many of which were torn from their moorings by the storm.

Having hit Bermuda, Gonzalo continued to travel northward and by the evening of October 19 had become a powerful extratropical cyclone in the far north Atlantic. The remnants of the storm are expected to impact the UK in the coming days.