In recent years, natural hazards have remained relatively quiet with 2015 continuing this trend. However, that does not discount the isolated events that were devastating—to both people and property—across the nation.
Will this temporary reprieve from devastating catastrophic hazard events continue in 2016? Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball that predicts the future of hazard events, but there is no doubt that some of these hazards will eventually return to higher numbers with more damaging results.
Each year CoreLogic analyzes and evaluates the number and severity of natural hazard events that occurred across the U.S. in order to help protect and restore homeowners and businesses from financial catastrophe. We strive to educate and empower our clients with granular hazard risk data and services that they in turn use to provide adequate insurance protection for homeowners and business owners so that natural hazards do not result in financial loss. While impossible to predict when and where the next natural disaster will strike, CoreLogic insights can help increase the understanding and mitigation against these damaging perils.
Just as there was an overall decline in the damage caused by major U.S. hazards in 2014 when compared with previous years, 2015 also saw a continuation of similarly low damage totals. Superstorm Sandy remains the most devastating natural hazard event in recent years, causing approximately $67 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters Table of Events1.This recent trend of reduced natural hazard activity and resulting impact leaves many to wonder how long it will last. Although 2015 followed the trend of being a relatively quiet year for natural disasters, there were still significant events that were regionally and locally devastating.
According to National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) data from 1960 to present, the 2015 wildfire year was the worst in terms of the number of acres burned2.
Even though total flood losses in 2015 were on par with 2014, flooding was the most significant peril in 2015, with El Niño contributing to record-breaking rainfall in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska.
With respect to Atlantic-basin hurricanes, 2015 was classified as a below-normal activity year, with only 11 named storms.
Anecdotal evidence from insurance carriers suggests that 2015 will be remembered as a relatively quiet year for wind claims.
Overall, hail activity in 2015 was slightly above average.
Tornado activity in 2015 ranked slightly above average compared with other years; however, it was still markedly less than the active severe weather seasons of 2008 and 2011.
Earthquake activity did not follow a downward trend in 2015, and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) classified the year as having a slightly higher-than-average number of earthquakes, but none of them resulted in significant damage or losses.
Evaluation of sinkhole activity reveals that 2015 did not experience the same level of dramatic sinkhole activity as 2014, but several non-catastrophic sinkhole events were still observed, especially in Florida.
No one knows if this temporary reprieve from devastating catastrophic hazard events will continue in 2016, but activity will eventually return to higher numbers and more damaging events. History shows us that it is impossible to determine specifically where or when the next natural hazard event will strike, which is why preparedness and active response are so important. As the past shows, it may only take a single event to elevate the damage totals for the year into the tens of billions of dollars.
A comprehensive understanding of geographic areas at risk, combined with potential loss estimates and the probability of occurrence, are the basis for building a sound methodology for preparing for, and ultimately dealing with, future hazards. Through education and data-driven insights, CoreLogic can help protect and restore homeowners and businesses from financial catastrophe.
Were you aware of most of these natural hazards? We’d love to hear from you!
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