Boston-based catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide said it was analyzing possible insured loss from windstorm Klaus, which tore through Spain and France over the weekend.
AIR said the storm was akin to a 1999 winter storm, which struck France and Switzerland causing an insured loss that Swiss Re put at more than $2.3 billion.
Peter Dailey, director of atmospheric science at AIR Worldwide in Boston, said the Klaus forecast “was for a storm of similar intensity to 1999′s winter storm Martin, though likely of more limited geographic scope. In fact, winter storm Klaus…affected a wider swath than had originally been forecast, causing damage from the Dordogne area south to Barcelona, in Spain’s Catalunya region.”
AIR said M?t?o France weather forecasters issued a rare red alert for a strong winter storm to hit five departments of southwest France on Saturday.
Wind gusts of 160 kilometers per hour (99.4 mph) and higher were recorded in various locations across the region. A 184 kilometers per hour gust (114.3 mph) was recorded in the eastern Pyrenees near Perpignan.
According to M?t?o France, these are some of the strongest winds since records began.
Mr. Daily said, “Across the storm’s path, roofs were torn off, signs and awnings downed, and automobiles damaged by fallen trees or collapsed masonry walls.”
His statement added, “French television footage has shown toppled chimneys and overturned trucks. Large tracts of pine forest were flattened by the storm, most notably in the Landes, a department in southwest France on the border with Spain important for its timber industry.”
AIR said yesterday morning more than 1.1 million households were still without electricity, rail networks remained out of service, and roads were impassible as a result of downed trees.
Waves as high as 69 feet were recorded off northern Spain’s Basque coast, according to the regional ministry of the interior, AIR noted.
Firefighters in Tarragona, Alicante and Valencia yesterday were working to control existing wildfires that had been fanned by the storm’s high winds and new ones sparked by downed electrical lines.
AIR said it is collecting and analyzing observation data for winter storm Klaus and will make additional information available as warranted.
Guy Carpenter issued an Instrat CAT-i Report that said damage from Klaus in southwestern regions of France and northern Spain has been severe, with reports of roof damage to property and extensive damage to the forestry industry.
Forestry officials said hundreds of thousands of trees had been flattened by the storm in the Gironde and Landes departments. The Landes forest is reported to have sustained severe damage while the Gironde region in southwestern France has also seen vast forest areas flattened by the storm. Reports said other departments with property and tree damage included Pyr?n?es-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyr?n?es, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne, Aude and Pyr?n?es-Orientales.