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Aon Catastrophe Report Reveals Severe Weather Hit US Economy

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June 16, 2017

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

The report reveals that several major outbreaks of severe weather swept across central and eastern sections of the United States during the month, causing extensive damage through large hail, straight-line winds, tornadoes, and isolated flash flooding.

The most prolific event occurred in the greater Denver, Colorado, metro region, where damage from up to softball-sized hail led to insurance payouts of more than $1.4 billion in the state alone. Significant damage from severe storms was also cited in parts of the Plains, Midwest, Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic.

Total aggregated economic losses from US severe weather in May was set to exceed $4 billion, while public and private insurers faced a combined payout approaching $3 billion. These totals were subject to change as further assessments were conducted.

Meanwhile, the combination of the arrival of the southwest monsoon and a developing tropical cyclone led to significant rainfall across Sri Lanka, killing at least 213 people, with another 77 people listed as missing and presumed dead. Nearly 150 others were injured.

Flooding and landslides affected 15 of the country's 25 districts and left more than 22,200 homes damaged or destroyed. Thousands of other structures (including hospitals, schools, and religious facilities) were inundated. Total economic losses were preliminarily estimated at $197 million.

Other natural hazard events to have occurred elsewhere during May include the following.

  • Cyclone Mora made landfall in Bangladesh, prompting widespread flood and wind damage. The effects were later felt in Myanmar. At least 9 people were killed, and a combined 50,000 homes and other structures were damaged. Overall aggregated losses were expected to exceed $100 million.

  • Powerful thunderstorms led to widespread hail and wind damage in parts of Canada, Russia, China, and Bangladesh. Total combined economic losses were well beyond $100 million.

  • In Canada, separate bouts of excessive rainfall led to major flooding events in Ontario, Quebec, the Canadian Maritimes, and British Columbia, killing at least 4 people and damaging more than 5,200 homes.

  • Major flood events affected Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania, and Indonesia.

  • Multiple regions of the globe dealt with worsening drought conditions. In China, the northern provincial areas of Inner Mongolia, Hebei, and Liaoning cited agricultural losses of at least $122 million. The ongoing drought in South Africa saw costs likely to exceed $100 million.

  • Cyclone Donna became the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere during the month of May. The storm tracked through the South Pacific Islands and caused extensive damage in parts of the Vanuatu island chain, New Caledonia, and the Solomon Islands.

Separate moderate earthquake events struck Iran (magnitude 5.8) and China (magnitude 5.4), killing 11 people and injuring hundreds more. Thousands of homes collapsed.

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