U.S. in Longest Stretch Without Major Hurricane Landfall Since 1860s

The U.S. has gone seven consecutive years without a landfalling major hurricane, the longest stretch since the 1860s, a meteorologist with Aon Benfield’s catastrophe modeler says.

“The United States is certainly in a quiet period, with Hurricane Wilma in 2005 being the last major hurricane to make landfall in the United States,” Steve Bowen, senior scientist at Impact Forecasting, said during a webinar today.

In fact, Bowen said 2012 marks the fourth consecutive year of below-average tropical-cyclone landfall on a global basis.

However, despite the slowdown in tropical-cyclone landfalls, global catastrophe losses in 2012 were 36 percent higher than the 10-year average, an Impact Forecasting report notes.

Losses for the year are currently estimated to be $72 billion, while the 10-year average is $53 billion.

Economic losses, meanwhile, were $200 billion, slightly above the 10-year average of $187 billion.

Bowen observed in an interview with PC360 that the level of loss does not necessarily correlate with the number of events that occur in a given year. Insurance penetration and economic development contribute substantially to the final figures.

The Impact Forecasting report notes, for example, that the higher-than-average 2012 insured losses are primarily due to the number of catastrophe events in the heavily insured United States.

Superstorm Sandy was the largest loss event in 2012, with Impact Forecast estimating $28 billion in insured losses across private insurance and government programs. The storm is expected to cause approximately $65 billion in economic losses across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

“Sandy [becomes] the second most expensive hurricane event in history,” Bowen said during the webinar.

Aon Benfield has also launched its Catastrophe Insight Impact Forecasting website today, which allows access to information on catastrophe events worldwide and lists 10-year economic and insured-loss data. Access to other related reports is also available on the site. 

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