The most active March for tornado touchdowns in the United States since 2017, as well as string of outbreaks of severe weather, with hail and flooding, is set to drive billions in economic losses and at least a billion dollars of insurance market losses, according to Aon.
Impact Forecasting, the meteorology and catastrophe risk focused unit of insurance and reinsurance broker Aon, reports that a total of 122 tornado touchdowns have been preliminarily reported for the month of March, which it says is the highest since 2017.
Among these was the first EF4 tornado of 2021 which hit Georgia on March 25th/26th, as well as numerous other tornadoes that caused property damage.
Impact Forecasting breaks March’s severe weather down into six separate outbreaks, some more costly and impactful than others.
March 9th – 11th:
Severe weather swept across the Plains from March 9-11 and prompted large hail and damaging non-tornadic winds in parts of Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota. Large hailstones approaching 2.0 inches (5.1 centimeters) in diameter were reported in a densely populated region near St. Paul, Minnesota. Total economic losses were expected to approach USD75 million, with insurers covering most of the damage.
March 12th – 15th:
A strong winter storm and subsequent severe weather affected parts of the Rockies and Plains from March 12-15. Heavy snow impacted portions of Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota; while large hail and damaging winds affected the Texas panhandle. Total economic damage was estimated in the tens of millions (USD).
March 16th – 18th:
A significant multi-day severe weather outbreak swept across the Southern U.S. from March 16-18. At least 48 tornadoes touched down in nine states, though the worst damage occurred in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi on March 17. Total economic losses were expected to reach into the hundreds of millions (USD). Most of the wind- and hail-related damage was covered by insurance.
March 22nd – 23rd:
Powerful thunderstorms were ignited in Texas on March 22-23 which resulted in notable wind and hail-related damages. Impacts were most prevalent in the greater Austin and San Antonio metro areas. Total economic and insured losses were each anticipated to exceed USD100 million.
March 24th – 26th:
A major severe weather outbreak affected parts of the Plains and Southeast from March 24-26. At least six storm- related fatalities occurred, including five alone from an EF3 tornado in Calhoun County, Alabama. At least twenty- three tornadoes were confirmed, with Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee incurring the worst damage. The first U.S. EF4 tornado of 2021 was confirmed in Georgia. Heavy rain also spawned flash flooding. Total economic and insured losses were each anticipated to reach into the hundreds of millions (USD).
March 27th – 28th:
A prolonged period of heavy rainfall resulted in major flooding across widespread portions of Tennessee, including the Nashville Metropolitan Region between March 27-28. At least seven fatalities were reported in the state. Concurrently, severe storms impacted the Lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valley on March 27, producing reports of strong-straight winds, large hail, and isolated tornadoes, before shifting eastward on March 28. Total economic and insured losses were each anticipated to reach into the hundreds of millions (USD).
Impact Forecasting summarised the month saying that March 2021’s multiple U.S. severe weather outbreaks with their resulting tornadoes, damaging hail, and flooding, will prompt a billion-dollar bill for the insurance and reinsurance industry.
The company also opined on February’s flooding in Australia, estimating the economic impacts to be around US $2 billion, while the claims reported so far amount to AU $537 million (US $410 million).