Tag Archives: Winter Storms

October Snowstorm

Who knew it would be a weekend for breaking  records? An unprecedented early  season snowstorm  slammed into  the Northeast U.S.  eclipsing records for October snowfall and leaving at least  11 dead and more than two million without power.

Over at Wunderblog, weather historian Christopher Burt tells us:

Not since the infamous snow hurricane of 1804 have such prodigious amounts of snow been recorded in New England and, to a lesser extent, in the mid-Atlantic states. In fact, the snowfall, in most cases, has exceeded that of even the great October snow of 1804.”

Further,  in a period of record that dates back to 1869:

Virtually every site north of Maryland to Maine, with the exception of coastal areas, recorded their greatest October snowfall on record.”

The latest storm summary from the National Weather Service has snowfall totals by state.

A combination of wet, heavy snow falling on trees that had yet to lose their leaves and were already weakened by Hurricane Irene, made for downed trees, branches and power lines, leaving many roads impassable and causing widespread power outages.

As we previously reported in the wake of Hurricane Irene, if a tree hits  your home or other insured structure, standard homeowners policies provide coverage for the damage the tree does to the structure and the contents in it.

It does not matter whether or not you own the tree. If it lands on your home, you should file a claim with your insurance company, the I.I.I. says.

If a tree hits an insured structure, such as your house or garage, there is also coverage for the cost of removing the tree, generally up to about $500 to $1,000, depending on the insurer and the type of policy purchased.

Winter storms are historically very expensive and are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind only hurricanes and tornadoes. From 1991 to 2010, winter storms resulted in about $26 billion in insured losses, according to ISO.

An October snowstorm might be rare, but it’s a reminder to us all that winter is just around the corner. Now is the time to winter-proof your home, according to the I.I.I.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on winter storms.

Happy Halloween!

 

NOAA Winter Outlook

Even though the first day of winter is still two months away, it’s not too soon to prepare for the colder weather, at least  according to  the latest winter forecasts and outlooks.

I.I.I. facts and stats on winter storms tell us that melting snow can inflict significant damage to property, and winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just released its annual winter outlook, while in early October Accuweather.com issued its winter 2011-2012 forecast.

According to NOAA:

The Southern Plains should prepare for continued drier and warmer than average weather, while the Pacific Northwest is likely to be colder and wetter than average from December through February.

For the second winter in a row, La Nià ±a will influence weather patterns across the country, but as usual, it’s not the only climate factor at play. The ‘wild card’ is the lesser-known and less predictable Arctic Oscillation that could produce dramatic short-term swings in temperatures this winter.†

For those of us living in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, NOAA gives us equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation.

Winter weather for these regions is often driven not by La Nià ±a but by the Arctic Oscillation. If enough cold air and moisture are in place, areas north of the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast could see above-average snow.†

Check out Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog for his take on the NOAA outlook.

Meanwhile, the Accuweather.com long range forecasting team is predicting another cold and snowy winter for a large part of the country, due mainly to La Nià ±a.

According to Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the Accuweather.com long-range forecasting team, the North Central U.S. will bear the brunt of the 2011-2012 winter season.

In a blog post, Accuweather.com says:

The way the jet stream is expected to be positioned during this winter’s La Nià ±a will tend to drive storms through the Midwest and Great Lakes. Last year, the jet stream steered storms farther east along the Northeast coast, hammering the Interstate 95 corridor.

Therefore, instead of New York City enduring the worst of winter this year, it will likely be Chicago.”

Here’s the NOAA graphic of what to expect this winter season:

  

Winter Storms And Commercial Insurance Coverage

A good portion of the damage from severe winter storms in the U.S. the first week of February 2011 was the result of wet, heavy snow, which caused collapses to roofs, porches, awnings, carports and outbuildings.

The Hartford Courant has an interactive map of recent reported roof collapses in Connecticut. In and around Boston, MA, there have been over 70 reports of roof collapses  Ã¢â‚¬“ mostly flat-roofed commercial structures, according to catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide.

AIRÂ  also reports that the storm prompted more than 30 auto plants and facilities across the Midwest to temporarily shut down production. Many power plants were disrupted by the severe weather and record electricity demand overwhelmed the system, resulting in widespread blackouts.

For businesses that do not have the right type and amount of insurance, such losses could wreak havoc to their bottom line.

Last week in Indiana, for example, the roof of a business that makes steel products collapsed under the weight of more than a foot of snow, while in Connecticut, the top of an auto repair and towing business caved in.

Meanwhile, the Adirondack Sports Complex in upstate Queensbury, New York, was temporarily closed because its roof partially collapsed, due to weight of snow and ice.

Roof and building collapse from snow is covered under a standard businessowners policy. Businesses that are stricken with a power outage can also utilize property insurance or coverage for their machinery to recover some losses.

Check out further  Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) information on how business owners need to be prepared with the right commercial insurance coverage.

Guidelines from the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) can help you to determine how much snow and ice may be too much for a roof to handle.

Catastrophes By State

The sheer size of the latest round of ice, snow and wintry conditions blanketing much of the United States reminds us that insurers play a vital role in helping communities recover from disasters such as winter storms.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) has a great resource that can quantify just that in its just-published 2011 national edition of A Firm Foundation: How Insurance Supports the Economy.

It shows the wide variety of ways in which insurers contribute to the U.S. and state economies, including a section on catastrophe losses by state.

According to A Firm Foundation, Texas, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky and Oklahoma were the highest-ranking states on ISO’s list of the top five states for insured catastrophe losses in 2009 (latest available data).

ISO defines a catastrophe as an event that causes $25 million or more in insured property losses and affects a significant number of property/casualty policyholders and insurers.

In addition to winter storms, catastrophic events affecting states include hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, earthquakes, wildfires and floods.

In 2010 insured catastrophe losses in the U.S. totaled $13.6 billion, according to Munich Re data. Multiple severe winter storms across the country generated $2.6 billion in insured losses in 2010, the highest losses from this peril since 2003.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on winter storms.

Winter Storm Losses Can Be Costly

With another major snow storm headed for the Northeast this week and as southern states from Texas to North Carolina  bear the brunt of snow and freezing rain, it’s a good time to review our information on winter storms.

Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) research shows that winter storms are the third largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind hurricanes and tornadoes and result in about $1 billion in insured losses annually.

According to the  latest  data from Munich Re, insured annual U.S. winter storm losses in 2010 totaled $2.6 billion  Ã¢â‚¬“ the highest losses from this peril since 2003.

Over at Wunderblog Dr. Jeff Masters predicts up to a foot of snow is possible for New York City, Boston, and coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island beginning on Tuesday night:

The Nor’easter will not be as intense as the December 26 blizzard, however. The winds from the new storm are expected to remain less than 35 mph, resulting in only minor coastal flooding and an absence of blizzard conditions (winds in excess of 35 mph and visibility less than 1/4 mile).

Check out the I.I.I. website for claims filing information and  further  I.I.I. information on winter weather preparation.

East Coast Blizzard

With blizzard warnings in effect for coastal New England including New York City and the eastern half of New Jersey  Sunday and Monday  now is a good time to visit our facts and stats on winter storms.

Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) research shows that winter storms result in about $1 billion in insured losses annually and are the third largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind hurricanes and tornadoes.

Melting snow can inflict significant damage to property. From 1990-2009 winter storms resulted in about $25 billion in insured losses, according to ISO.

As  residents and businessowners start to dig out from the snowstorm, the good news is that standard homeowners policies cover winter-related disasters such as burst pipes, ice dams, and wind damage caused by weight of ice or snow, as well as fire-related losses.

Check out the I.I.I. website for claims filing information and  further  I.I.I. information on winter weather preparation.

NOAA Predicts Winter of Extremes

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just released its annual winter outlook, reminding us that now is a good time to begin preparations for the cold weather.

According to NOAA’s predictions, another winter of extremes is in store for the United States, due to a strengthening La Nià ±a.

Accuweather.com chief long range forecaster Joe Bastardi also points to the influence of La Nià ±a in his winter outlook.

La Nià ±a winters are typically synonymous with harsh conditions across the northern tier of the U.S. and drier than normal conditions throughout the southern tier, according to Bastardi.

Note: La Nià ±a is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, unlike El Nià ±o which is associated with warmer than normal water temperatures. Both phenomena, which typically occur every 2-5 years, influence weather patterns throughout the world and often lead to extreme weather events.

Regional highlights of  NOAA’s winter outlook include:

NOAA predicts the Pacific Northwest should brace for a colder and wetter than average winter, while most of the South and Southeast will be warmer and drier than average through February 2011.

However, for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic the picture is less clear, with equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation.

Why the uncertainty? Well, NOAA explains that winter weather for these regions is often driven not by La Nià ±a but by weather patterns over the northern Atlantic Ocean and Arctic. These are often more short-term, and generally predictable only a week or so in advance.

If you still have questions, the Weather Channel has the answers in its excellent “Winter’s Top 5 Hottest Questions† segment.

Winter storms can be costly for insurers. Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) research shows that winter storms result in about $1 billion in insured losses annually and are the third largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind hurricanes and tornadoes.

According to Munich Re, average annual winter storm losses have increased by more than 50 percent since 1980. A series of winter storms in the Mid-Atlantic and New England states in the early part of 2010 created the highest insured losses for this peril since 2003.

NOAAWinterOutlook

‘Snowmageddon’

As a second major snow storm in less than a week hits the Northeast, the National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings that extend into New York City, where it says  10 to 16 inches of snow can be expected. As of 4am EST, winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories were in effect across a region stretching from near Chicago through the Ohio Valley all the way into southern New England. Snowfall totals late Tuesday and into early Wednesday at Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC and Wilmington, DE from this most recent storm have made the winter of 2009-2010 the snowiest on record for these cities, according to the National Weather Service. This severe weather map from Weather Underground (wunderground.com) shows the extent of the winter weather (areas in white)  across the Northeast.

NEsnowmap021010

Winter storms can be costly for insurers. Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) research shows that winter storms result in about $1 billion in insured losses annually and are the third largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind hurricanes and tornadoes. Melting snow can inflict significant damage to property. From 1999-2008 winter storms resulted in more than $7 billion in insured losses. Winter storms also account for a large proportion of homeowners claims each year. In 2007, water damage and freezing accounted for approximately 22 percent of all homeowners claims in the country. Check out I.I.I. info on insurance coverage for winter-related damage.

Winter Storm Watch

A major winter storm barreled up the East coast over the weekend, blanketing states from the mid-Atlantic to New England bringing record snowfalls to some regions. According to reports, the storm caused widespread power outages, treacherous driving conditions, and was blamed for at least six deaths. It’s easy to forget that winter storms can pack a powerful punch, for insurers in particular. According to Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) research winter storms result in about $1 billion in insured losses annually and are the third largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind hurricanes and tropical storms and tornadoes. Melting snow can inflict significant damage to property. From 1999-2008, winter storms resulted in more than $7 billion in insured losses. Winter storms also account for a large proportion of homeowners claims each year. In 2007, water damage and freezing accounted for approximately 22 percent of all homeowners claims in the country. So what are the coverage issues for policyholders? Standard homeowners policies cover property damages caused by burst pipes, ice dams, wind and hail and damages from weight of ice or snow. However, property damage caused by flooding (water that comes into the home from the ground up) is typically covered by a separate flood insurance policy. Check out I.I.I. info on flood insurance.