Hurricanes, floods, hailstorms, tornados, wildfires, sinkholes, earthquakes, tropical cyclones and typhoons pounded the U.S. and imposed significant damage across the globe in 2014, according to the annual Natural Hazard Risk Summary and Analysis published by CoreLogic.
The global property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider recently released its annual report, which details the most significant natural disasters of 2014 and provides several projections for 2015.
Among key findings in the U.S., the CoreLogic 2014 Natural Hazard Risk Summary and Analysis notes:
Just as 2013 experienced a decline in the damage caused by major hazards in the U.S. compared with 2012, 2014 experienced a continuation of similar low overall damage totals. Not since 2012 when Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the northeast has the U.S. experienced a single natural hazard event that has totaled in the tens of billions of dollars in damage.
The 2014 hurricane season marked the second consecutive year of low tropical storm and hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean. With only eight named North Atlantic storms, six formed into hurricanes and just two of the six developed into a major hurricane (defined as developing into a Category 3 or larger).
Reasons for the below-normal hurricane impact in 2013 and 2014 can be attributed to the continuing high levels of wind shear in the Atlantic that impede the development of tropical cyclones, along with more stable atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic, which subdue the formation of clouds and thunderstorms necessary for the development of tropical cyclones.
The amount of flood-related losses in the first half of the year was dominated by flash floods that caused a disproportionally large share of property loss in the flood category. Flash flooding was not limited to one region of the U.S, and many happened in large metropolitan areas such as Detroit, Long Island, New York and Phoenix.
The amount of damage attributed to flooding in 2014 is some $4.2 billion in losses for the year, which is below the long-term historical average of $5.3 billion annually.
It is possible that the U.S. still might have two to three years of near-average flood-related damage before the next catastrophic loss occurs, based on projections from historic data.
Analysis indicates that 2015 flood losses could total between $5 billion and $6 billion, with flash flooding events’ continuing to account for a large percentage of overall annual damage.
This year is on track to have the fewest tornadoes recorded in the past decade with just 720 tornados verified through August and an additional 128 storm reports filed through November.
Overall hail fall across the U.S. in 2014 covered the greatest geographical area of any year since at least 2006. According to CoreLogic hail verification technology, 934,948 square miles, or 18.6 percent of the continental U.S., were affected by hail of 0.75 inches or greater.
In 2015, if the number or geographical extent of storms that produce larger, damaging hail returns to near or above recent norms, we likely will see a more severe hail season and possibly higher insurance claims volume compared with 2013 and 2014.
2014 had the lowest amount of acreage lost to wildfire in the past 10 years. The number of fires in 2014 was slightly above the 2013 year-to-date total, but the amount of acreage lost to wildfire in 2014 year is only 85 percent of the previous year’s total.
Early drought forecasts for 2015 indicate the likelihood of a continuation of drought conditions in the West. The accumulation of higher levels of dry fuel means that the elevated risk for wildfires seen during the past few years will continue.
Across the globe, 2014 was trending toward becoming the warmest year on record, with temperatures through the first 10 months of the year recorded as the warmest yet.