Major environmental disasters: January 2017
- Published: Monday, 13 February 2017 09:03
Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield's catastrophe model development team, has published the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report. This evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred around the world during January 2017.
The report highlights the multiple severe weather outbreaks that killed 27 people in the United States during January, causing economic losses of more than USD 1.0 billion, and insured losses minimally in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The most prolific event occurred during the second half of the month, most heavily impacting the states of Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida. Thousands of homes, businesses and other structures were damaged or destroyed, and states of emergency were declared in Mississippi and Georgia.
The US National Weather Service preliminarily confirmed that at least 130 tornadoes touched down during the month: the highest number of January tornadoes since 1999, when 212 tornadoes touched down.
Additionally, consecutive winter storms brought extreme precipitation across the US West. The most significant damage was recorded in California due to flash flooding, mudslides and debris flows.
Total economic losses from the early January event were expected to approach USD 700 million, while public and private insurance losses were listed around USD 300 million.
Other natural catastrophe events to have occurred during January include:
- The worst wildfires in Chile's modern history killed at least 11 people, damaged or destroyed an estimated 2,500 structures and vehicles, and more than 420,000 hectares (1.1 million acres) of land nationwide. Preliminary damage and firefighting costs were listed at CLP 570 billion (USD 890 million).
- Exceptional rainfall in southern Thailand killed at least 96 people, and inundated as many as 585,000 homes and other structures. Total economic losses were estimated to reach or exceed THB 30 billion (USD 860 million).
- Severe flooding was also registered in Malaysia, where more than 25,000 people were evacuated in Terengganu and Kelantan states after widespread damage was noted. The government cited combined economic losses at MYR 585 million (USD 132 million).
- Other major flood events occurred in Peru, South Africa, Angola, China, Philippines, and French Polynesia.
- A stretch of bitterly cold Arctic air engulfed much of Europe during the first half of the month, killing at least 76 people.
- Windstorm Egon caused an estimated insurable damage of more than USD 170 million across the UK, France and Germany.
- Severe winter storm events were recorded in the United States and Canada.
- A series of moderate earthquakes hit central Italy on January 18th, resulting in damage and avalanches that led to at least 30 casualties.