Hurricanes Irma and Maria as well as three powerful earthquakes in Mexico resulted in tens of billions of dollars (U.S.) in damage last month, according to Impact Forecasting’s latest monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report.
Hurricane Irma – which crossed through the northern Caribbean as a Category 5 hurricane before making landfall in the United States on Sept. 10 to become the first Category 4 landfall in Florida since 2004 (Hurricane Charley) – resulted in at least 124 people killed or missing. Major damage was noted in the U.S., Cuba, Barbuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the northern Leeward Islands.
September 2017 was the most active month ever recorded for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean
In the U.S., Irma resulted in 80 deaths, one million “structures/claims” and an estimated economic loss of “well into the tens of billions” in U.S. dollars, the report said.
Later in the month, Hurricane Maria became the second landfalling Category 5 hurricane in a matter of weeks, when it struck Dominica and grazed St. Croix. The storm later crossed Puerto Rico as a high-end Category 4 – the strongest storm to hit the island since 1932 – resulting in catastrophic damage and impacts, the statement said, adding that additional damage was noted in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. At least 78 people were confirmed dead and many others were considered missing.
According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, “September 2017 was the most active month ever recorded for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean when measuring the combined strength and duration of storms in the basin. With assessments still ongoing for both Irma and Maria, it remains too early to provide a specific economic or insured loss estimate for each event – especially given the prolonged business interruption impact. The overall financial toll of each storm is expected to reach well into the tens of billions (USD). In each instance, public and private insurers faced payouts considerably exceeding USD10 billion.”
In Mexico, Tropical Storm Lidia resulted in the death of 20 people when it tracked along Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The country was also impacted by three powerful earthquakes. The temblors included the strongest earthquake of 2017. In total, about 7,000 homes and 5,000 schools were damaged or destroyed, at least 2,000 of which were listed as “historic buildings.” Total combined economic damage was expected to reach into the billions of dollars (U.S. dollars).
Other natural disasters around the world in September:
- Typhoon Doksuri left extensive damage across Vietnam, the Philippines, southern China and Laos, killing 40 people and damaging nearly 250,000 homes. Economic losses listed at US$500 million;
- Tropical Storm Talim caused damage in Japan, damaging nearly 7,000 homes and causing an estimated US$700 million in economic damages;
- A storm system prompted days of flash flooding in regions of Italy and Croatia, killing at least nine people. Economic damage was listed at US$250 million in Italy, and US$160 million in Croatia;
- Flood occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where at least 105 people were killed; Uganda, where 23 people were killed or missing; and China, which sustained US$481 million in economic damage;
- Separate severe weather outbreaks in mid-September killed 8 people in Romania, and damaged 2,400 homes and large swaths of agriculture in China. Economic damages were listed as tens of millions (U.S.) in Romania and US$900,000 in China;
- Windstorm Sebastian swept through the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany on Sept. 12-13, killing three people and causing extensive damage to agriculture in Germany. Approximately 25,000 hectares of agricultural land was damaged in Germany, with losses to the sector likely to be tens of millions of euros.