Roundup of August’s major environmental disasters

Published: Tuesday, 12 September 2017 08:28

Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield's catastrophe model development team, has published the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during August 2017.

The highlights the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, which came ashore in Texas on August 25 to become the first major hurricane (a storm rated as either Category 3, 4 or 5) to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Heavy rain continued until August 31 bringing record-breaking rainfall to some areas. Catastrophic flooding ensued across a swath of eastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana, as more than 60 people were confirmed dead and dozens more were injured. Additional impacts due to severe thunderstorms and flash floods were noted across the Gulf States and Mississippi Valley. Total economic losses were estimated to minimally reach the tens of billions (USD), ensuring that Harvey is likely to become one of the costliest natural disasters on record in the US. Preliminary published reports suggest that insured losses – including those paid by private industry and the US National Flood Insurance Program – were likely to well exceed USD 10 billion.

Elsewhere, Typhoon Hato and Tropical Storm Pakhar both made landfall in China's Guangdong province within one week of each other, causing considerable damage and loss of life in multiple provinces as well as Macau and Hong Kong. Economic losses from Hato alone were minimally estimated at USD 3.0 billion, while combined insured losses from both storms in Guangdong were estimated at USD 535 million.

Additionally, Typhoon Noru and Hurricane Franklin impacted southern Japan and Mexico respectively during August.

Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist, said: "Hurricane Harvey's landfall in the United States officially put an end to the 11-year major hurricane drought. The impacts from the cyclone were far-reaching, and the scope of flood damage in Houston – the nation's fourth largest city – was historic. Given the anticipated costs from direct damage and business interruption, it is expected that Harvey will eventually be recorded as one of the costliest natural disasters on record in the US Harvey served as a challenging reminder of how catastrophic hurricane events can be."

Further natural disaster events to have occurred worldwide in August include:

To view the full Impact Forecasting August 2017 Global Catastrophe Recap report, click here (PDF).