Roundup of July’s major environmental disasters
- Published: Monday, 15 August 2016 07:30
Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield's catastrophe model development team, has issued the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report , which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during July 2016.
The report reveals that much of China endured substantial seasonal ‘Mei-Yu’ rainfall that led to a dramatic worsening of flooding along the Yangtze River Basin and in the country's northeast. Nearly 20 provincial regions were impacted by floods that had been ongoing in some areas since May. Data from China's Ministry of Civil Affairs indicated that a combined 764 people were left dead or missing, and more than 800,000 homes and other structures were damaged or destroyed.
Considerable damage to the agricultural sector was also prevalent with an estimated 18 million acres of cropland damaged by floodwater. Total combined economic losses were estimated at USD33 billion, with at least USD28 billion occurring in the Yangtze River Basin. The China Insurance Regulatory Commission cited insurance claims payouts representing less than 2.0 percent of the economic cost, with most of the claims from lost agriculture.
Adam Podlaha, Global Head of Impact Forecasting, said: "While it was expected that China would see above normal rainfall during the peak monsoon months with such a strong El Niño, the intensity and scope of what transpired from the associated floods were at a magnitude not seen in nearly two decades. The flood peril is one which is becoming better understood by catastrophe modelers, and the industry is better prepared than ever to help create awareness of the risks associated with such large events."
Meanwhile, the United States recorded six separate outbreaks of severe convective storms and flash flooding from the Rockies to the East Coast. Total combined economic losses were minimally estimated at USD1.5 billion. By contrast to China, public and private insurers were anticipated to record losses nearing USD1.0 billion or 67 percent of overall economic costs.
Many of the storms were spawned by an extended period of very hot and humid conditions that led to a ‘Ring of Fire’ thunderstorm pattern. This active weather pattern also contributed to elevated thunderstorm and flood activity and damage in Canada's provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. Total combined economic and insured losses were expected to well exceed USD100 million once all assessments are completed.
Events to have occurred elsewhere during the month of July include:
- Monsoon rains led to extensive flood damage elsewhere in Asia. More than 230 people were left dead or missing in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia and Afghanistan as tens of thousands of homes were destroyed.
- Super Typhoon Nepartak claimed 82 lives as it made separate landfalls in Taiwan and China. Though not officially coming ashore, its outer bands lashed northern portions of the Philippines. The heaviest damage was noted in Taiwan and China, where at least 38,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Combined economic losses were at least USD1.5 billion.
- Severe thunderstorms and flash flooding left considerable damage across parts of South Africa, killing at least seven people. The local insurance industry anticipated insured losses exceeding ZAR2.0 billion (USD145 million). Overall economic losses were much higher.
- Tropical Storm Mirinae made separate landfalls in southern China and northern Vietnam, leaving at least five people dead or missing. The storm left more than 2,000 homes and 110,000 hectares (272,000 acres) of cropland damaged or destroyed. Total combined economic losses were listed at USD20 million.
- The Sand Fire was ignited in California, charring more than 41,432 acres (16,770 hectares) of land. Two people were killed as the fire damaged or destroyed more than 140 homes and other structures.