NU Online News Service, March 6, 11:28 a.m. EST
The first estimate for the insured losses from last week’s series of deadly tornadoes that ravaged the Midwest says claim payments could go as high as $2 billion.
Catastrophe modeler EQECAT says the severe weather that formed two volatile weather systems during the period Feb. 28 to March 3 produced an estimated $1 to $2 billion in insured losses.
The weather events include tornadoes, hail, and strong winds over an area that covered 12 states from the Deep South to as far north as Ohio and Illinois, according to National Weather Service maps.
Most of the more than 150 tornadoes, a preliminary count, occurred in the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Alabama, says EQECAT.
The storm system caused a month’s worth of tornadoes in just a few days, says the modeler.
“Tornado activity for the year is well above average with 272 tornadoes versus the seven-year (2005-2011) average of 123 (through March 4),” notes EQECAT.
EQECAT says an EF-4 tornado, with wind gusts of 166-200 mph, destroyed 200 homes and business in Harrisburg, Ill.
According to the National Weather Service, there have been 49 deaths from the tornado outbreaks so far this year and most took place in Indiana and Kentucky on March 2.
Adding insult to injury, snow blanketed Indiana and Kentucky on Monday, hampering clean-up efforts.
State Farm said yesterday that as of Saturday it received 6,300 claims, 3,600 home claims and 2,700 auto claims.
January through March is a relatively quiet period in terms of tornado outbreaks. Historically, the most active period is April through July. Last year proved a particularly active April with 758 tornadoes.
The National Weather Service says the costliest tornado on record was the EF-5 that hit Joplin, Mo. on May 22, which cost an estimated $2.8 billion in damage. That twister claimed 116 lives and claims payments are estimated to reach $2 billion.