The latest named European windstorm of the winter season, windstorm Friederike, is expected to cost hundreds of millions of Euros in economic losses, according to reinsurance broker Aon Benfield’s catastrophe risk unit Impact Forecasting.
European windstorm Friederike struck Ireland and the United Kingdom first, roaring across the countries overnight on Wednesday with wind gusts reaching speeds of over 80 mph. Damage was reported across some areas of the UK before storm Friederike carried on across the north sea towards continental Europe where the impacts from the storm were seen as more severe.
The Netherlands and Germany appear to have taken the brunt of storm Friederike’s winds, with wind gusts reportedly stronger at 90 mph plus in cities and a gust of 126 mph recorded in the mountains. In fact Friederike is seen as the most powerful storm, in terms of wind speeds, to hit Germany for 11 years.
Trains and ferries were cancelled across these countries and other areas of Europe, with Poland, Belgium and France also hit by the storms winds.
Impact Forecasting explained the damage caused by windstorm Friederike in its latest weekly catastrophe report:
Netherlands, Belgium, France
Orange (medium) wind warnings were issued for the Netherlands, but were later increased to the highest, red level in Gelderland and Overijssel during Thursday, January 18. Three fatalities were reported in Olst, Enschede and Vuren. Numerous flight cancelations and delays were reported from the country’s main airport at Schiphol. Notable damage was also incurred on railway overhead lines and the transport was practically paralyzed in much of the country. Road traffic was disrupted at numerous locations as dozens of trucks were overturned in strong winds. Initial reports from the country cited damage to property and motor that will likely end up well into the millions of EUR.
Several people were seriously injured in Belgium after being hit by falling branches or debris from buildings and one fatality was reported near Brussels. Local media reported numerous instances of structural damage, including roofs that were completely blown off buildings. This included both residential and commercial property. Damage was mostly confined to the northern regions. In France, the storm only affected the northernmost departments of Pas-de-Calais and Nord. At least 11,000 customers were left without power in the affected areas.
Five storm-related fatalities were reported from Germany at the time of this writing. Three of the casualties were in Nordrhein-Westfalen, one in Thuringen and one in Brandenburg. Dozens of people were injured across the country, some of them severely.
Initial reports indicated hundreds of roofs being destroyed or damaged. Fire brigade and emergency services responded to tens of thousands of storm related incidents; this number reached 7,000 in Nordrhein-Westfalen alone. Further damage is expected to the forestry sector, even though the trees are less prone to uprooting due to seasonal defoliation. Initial reports indicated notable forestry damage in the mountain range of Harz.
Widespread power outages occurred due to damage to the electricity grid and were estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. In Nordrhein-Westfalen alone the number of outages reached 130,000. A nationwide closure of long- distance railway transport was called by Deutsche Bahn in the evening, due to numerous fallen trees and damage on the lines. Stormy weather also led to numerous flight cancellations at major airports, including Düsseldorf, Cologne and Munich. Travel was also disrupted on several major highways and many more regional roads.
It’s too early to estimate the impact of Windstorm Friederike on insurance and reinsurance markets, but Impact Forecasting suggest that the bill will “likely reach into the hundreds of millions of EUR.”
Windstorm Friederike is the 10th named European extratropical cyclone of the winter 17/18 season so far.
Storm Friederike is not expected to result in an impact quite as high as that, but could easily see an industry loss surpassing EUR 500 million, we’re told by industry participants this morning.
Windstorm Friederike was also named Fionn by Ireland’s Met Éireann and the U.K. Met Office.