US SCS and “relentless tornado” activity could drive billions in losses: Aon –

The last week’s severe convective storms (SCS), tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flooding across the central United States could result in a bill running into the billions of dollars, on both an economic and insured basis, broker Aon has said.

“Due to relentless tornado activity over the last week, material losses within the central U.S. are expected to be significant,” Aon’s Impact Forecasting unit explained.

The week saw a continuous severe weather outbreak and flooding affecting central US states between April 25th and May 2nd, Aon’s unit reports.

A number of powerful and damaging tornadoes occurred and caused “catastrophic damage” across areas in Nebraska, Iowa, and Oklahoma, with numerous homes and businesses completely destroyed.

In addition, heavy rainfall and flooding affected parts of Texas, Kansas, and Missouri, exacerbating the week’s toll for the insurance industry.

In total, six people were killed and nearly 140 more were injured in the past week’s severe weather, Aon said.

Aon highlights that the April 25th to 26th tornado outbreak was particularly severe, with “one of the most prolific tornado outbreaks in recent memory” and 136 preliminary tornado reports submitted to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) on April 26th alone.

Five EF-3 tornadoes were seen in Nebraska and southwest Iowa, two of which prompted tornado emergencies and several areas near Omaha (NE) were heavily impacted by these violent tornadoes, including the towns of Elkhorn (NE), Waterloo (NE), Bennington (NE), and Minden (IA), Aon reported.

There was another SCS outbreak on April 27th that resulted in 51 preliminary tornado reports, with central Oklahoma particularly affected.

The strongest tornado observed was rated an EF-4, with an estimated peak wind speed of 170 mph (274 kph) that directly impacted the town of Marietta (OK) and this was the first EF-4 twister recorded in central Oklahoma in nearly 8 years.

In addition, a further two EF-3 tornadoes caused significant impacts within the towns of Sulphur (OK) and Holdenville (OK).

April 28th and 29th saw strong thunderstorms with 80 mph (129 kph) wind gusts and a few tornadoes primarily affecting parts of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, while torrential rain also saw flooding in southeast Texas.

Severe weather and intense rainfall then returned to the central U.S. from April 30th to May 2nd, with another 40 preliminary tornado reports sent to the SPC, including an EF-3 tornado that struck the town of Westmoreland (KS) with an estimated 140 mph (225 kph) maximum wind speed, Aon noted.

The flooding in Texas has been ongoing throughout, with locations near the Houston and Beaumont metro areas getting at least 6 inches (152 mm) of rain since May 1st, on top of saturated soils and more rain forecast for the coming days.

Aon said that, “Given the additional severe weather impacts and ongoing flash flooding in Texas, total economic and insured losses may reach into the billions USD.”

One of the tornadoes on April 27th caused significant damage to a one million square-foot distribution center, located in Marietta, Oklahoma, for the Dollar Tree discount stores.

Dollar Tree said that its distribution center is covered by significant property and inventory insurance, and that it expects all damages and recovery costs to be covered under its current policies. This facility alone is thought likely to drive an insurance loss into the low hundreds of millions.

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