Friday, November 8, 2013

AIR estimates insured losses from last week’s European windstorm Christian at between EUR 1.5 billion and EUR 2.3 billion

AIR Worldwide: Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimates that insured losses from Windstorm Christian (known as St. Jude in the UK) will range between EUR 1.5 billion and EUR 2.3 billion, with the majority of insured losses occurring in Denmark and Germany. Significant insured losses also occurred in the Netherlands, France, UK, and Sweden.

“Windstorm Christian smashed into southern Britain on Monday, October 28, knocking down trees, flooding lowlands, and disrupting travel over land, sea, and air,” said Gerhard Zuba, senior principal scientist at AIR Worldwide. “Gusts of 160 km/h (100 mph) were reported on the Isle of Wight in southern England, and waves greater than 7.5 meters (25 feet) were reported elsewhere along the coast.”

According to AIR, after striking the UK, the storm moved north and east, hitting France, the Netherlands, northern Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia with similar force, and across the Baltic Sea to Latvia and Estonia, where the storm weakened. The Ile d’Ouessant, Finistere, France, reported a gust of 133 km/h (83 mph); the Netherlands gusts of 90 to 130 km/h (56 to 81 mph) along the Ijsselmeer coast; and southern Denmark the strongest wind recorded in the country’s history—a gust of 194.4 km/h (120.8 mph). By Tuesday morning, Windstorm Christian had dissipated considerably as it moved to Sweden's east coast and out toward the Baltic Sea, although hurricane-force gusts of over 115 km/h were measured on the Baltic islands of Oland and Gotland.

Dr. Zuba noted, “October is usually a quiet month for windstorms in Europe. Nevertheless, the overall atmospheric conditions were favorable for storms to impact the UK and northern Europe. The damage from storms during this time of year can be more severe than storms that develop later because many trees still have leaves on their branches, making branches more likely to break off and become airborne missiles, and also making trees more likely to topple. Further, Christian, powered by the temperature gradient between cold polar air and warm subtropical air, strengthened as it traveled over the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.”...

Damage from the windstorm, October 28, 2013, shot by Richard Symonds,  under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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