An overview of January’s major environmental disasters
- Published: Wednesday, 14 February 2018 10:21
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 January 2018.
Several Atlantic storm systems impacted Western and Central Europe during the month, the most significant of which was Windstorm Friederike, which killed at least 13 people after hurricane-force wind gusts and heavy rainfall affected Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom. The German Insurance Association (GDV) reported that Friederike was the costliest windstorm in the country since Windstorm Kyrill in 2007, with preliminary payouts listed at approximately EUR 1 billion (USD 1.24 billion). Additional payouts exceeding EUR 100 million (USD 125 million) were reported by other regional insurance groups. Overall economic losses were even higher.
Windstorms Eleanor and Carmen also impacted Western and Central Europe, killing at least seven people and causing notable damage in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Preliminary insured losses were listed in the hundreds of millions (EUR).
Further natural disaster events to have occurred elsewhere during January include:
- A powerful storm system and significant cold impacted much of the central and eastern United States during the first week of January, killing at least 22 people. Total economic damage was estimated at USD 1.1 billion, while public and private insurers were expected to pay up to USD 750 million in claims.
- Numerous areas of low pressure and extended periods of frigid temperatures affected Northern and Eastern China. The greatest impacts were noted to the agricultural sector in Jiangsu, Anhui, Hebei, and Hunan. The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) cited winter weather damage of at least USD 1.8 billion.
- Additional wintry weather led to casualties and damage in Japan, India, Nepal, Canada, and Lebanon.
- Heavy rainfall swept across the state of California, prompting flash flooding, mudslides and debris flow in areas previously impacted by major December 2017 wildfires, killing at least 21 people. An official assessment from Cal Fire cited that 129 single family residences and six commercial properties were destroyed and another 307 homes and 17 commercial properties were damaged. Total economic damage was expected to reach well into the hundreds of millions (USD).
- Persistent heavy rainfall recorded in Northern and Eastern France led to flooding along multiple rivers and streams, with some of the most notable impacts occurring in the Île-de-France region. Preliminary damage assessments suggested that the cost of the current flooding may reach the hundreds of millions (EUR).
- Other flood events were noted in Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and Philippines.
- Two powerful cyclones in the South West Indian Ocean led to widespread damage. Cyclone Ava left at least 73 people left dead or missing in Madagascar, while Cyclone Berguitta caused extensive damage in Mauritius and La Reunion.
- A magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck just offshore Peru's northern coast on January 14, killing at least two people, injuring 137 others, and damaging or destroying 2,541 homes and other structures.