Saturday, April 25, 2009

Insurers, risk managers take notice as losses from tornadoes surge

(An F2 tornado ripped into downtown Ft. Worth, Texas at 6:15 pm, March 28, 2000, killing 5 and injuring over 100 local residents. City officials believe the death toll would have been orders of magnitude higher had the twister struck an hour or two earlier, at the height of PM rush hour. It was another poignant reminder that, statistically, it's only a matter of time before downtowns and city skylines are impacted by tornadic winds. A handful of tall buildings will not deter a large tornado; that applies to hills, lakes and rivers and other geographic features).

Last year marked the worst year for catastrophe losses from tornadoes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with preliminary statistics showing 1,691 tornadoes in 2008—second only to 2004, when there were nearly 1,820 tornadoes. Many of the storms broke out in the early half of the tornado season, with seven states in the southeastern United States experiencing more than 200% of their average annual tornado frequency in just the first half of the season, according to catastrophe modeling firm Risk Management Solutions Inc.

(Are we really experiencing an uptick in tornadoes? Or are we just doing a better job finding and documenting the tornadoes that have always been there? A fluke or a trend? Click here to read the entire article documenting this apparent - statistically valid - increase in tornadoes across the USA).

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