Major environmental disasters: May 2017

Impact Forecasting has published the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during May 2017.

Several low pressure systems that brought heavy rainfall to portions of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes last month caused “hundreds of millions” in U.S. dollars and damaged more than 5,200 homes, according to Impact Forecasting’s latest Global Catastrophe Recap for the month of May.

Also in Canada, throughout April, southern portions of British Columbia experienced prolonged periods of rainfall, leaving several rivers well above normal for the time of year. Further heavy rainfall on May 5 led to several of these rivers overflowing their banks. At least two people were killed and hundreds were evacuated as flooding impacted B.C.’s Southern Interior. Economic losses were anticipated in the tens of millions in U.S. dollars.

Elsewhere in the world, the combination of the arrival of a southwest monsoon and a developing tropical cyclone led to significant rainfall across Sri Lanka, killing at least 213 people, with another 77 people listed as missing and presumed dead. Nearly 150 others were injured. Flooding and landslides affected 15 of the country’s 25 districts and left more than 22,200 homes damaged or destroyed, the statement said.

Heavy rainfall in the northeastern Brazilian states of Pernambuco and Alagoas prompted widespread flooding and mudslides.

“With the onset of the annual monsoon season for many Asian nations, the events seen in the month of May provided a potential precursor to some of the impacts typically experienced in the region during the months of June, July, and August,” said Claire Darbinyan, Impact Forecasting’s associate director and meteorologist, in the statement.

Other natural hazard events that occurred throughout the world in May include:

  • Powerful thunderstorms led to widespread hail and wind damage in parts of Canada, Russia, China and Bangladesh. Total combined economic losses were well beyond US$100 million;
  • Cyclone Mora made landfall in Bangladesh, prompting widespread flood and wind damage. At least nine people were killed and a combined 50,000 homes and other structures were damaged. Overall aggregated losses were expected to exceed US$100 million;
  • Cyclone Donna became the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere during the month of May. The storm tracked through the South Pacific Islands and caused extensive damage in parts of the Vanuatu island chain, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. Total economic damages were expected “well in the millions” in U.S. dollars;
  • Heavy rainfall in the northeastern Brazilian states of Pernambuco and Alagoas prompted widespread flooding and mudslides that claimed at least 12 lives. As many as 85,000 people were left homeless. Economic loss was estimated at more than US$100 million;
  • Multiple regions of the globe dealt with worsening drought conditions. In China, the northern provincial areas of Inner Mongolia, Hebei and Liaoning cited agricultural losses of at least US$122 million. The ongoing drought in South Africa saw costs likely to exceed US$100 million; and
  • Separate moderate earthquake events struck Iran (magnitude-5.8) and China (magnitude-5.4), killing 11 people and injuring hundreds more. Thousands of homes collapsed.

View the full Impact Forecasting May 2017 Global Catastrophe Recap report (PDF)

Source: Canadian Underwriter

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