Little more than a week ago, I signed off my previous blog post, discussing storm Eleanor/Burglind, with the following thought:
As the number of minor windstorms impacting Europe this season grows, we are left to wonder how many more “near misses” can we experience before our luck runs out?
At the time, I further noted that:
One-day-out, the forecasts for Friederike were trending towards lower and lower severities
As an immature and fast-moving system, these forecasts were subject to high uncertainty
Eventual losses would be very sensitive to gust speeds experienced in urban areas near to the forecast footprint, such as Rotterdam and Dortmund
In the week since this post, it has become clear that our lucky streak has already come to an end. Storm Friederike (also named David by Météo-France) intensified towards the upper end of the forecast severities in Benelux and Germany, bringing strong gusts to highly populated areas and producing significant insurance losses.
I had the privilege of following Ben Brookes onto the Exceedance main stage in 2015. I can’t remember a word of my talk, but something Ben said while I was watching him from the green room has stayed with me ever since:
“Some, like Aubrey de Grey, believe that the first person to live to 1,000 has already been born.”
If that sounds to you like the claim of an oddball biogerontologist, you’re not alone. I for one remember scratching my head quizzically at the time.
All the same, it certainly got me thinking. If we’re going to live that long, we’re going to need something worthwhile to keep us busy. We’re all going to need to find a purpose; a focus for our energies.
RMS has produced estimates for the insured loss arising from the Thomas Fire that affected the Southern California counties of Ventura and Santa Barbara in December 2017. The estimate will fall between US$1 billion and US$2.5 billion, and includes loss caused by burn or smoke damage to personal, commercial, and industrial lines of business, along with insured loss from business interruption and additional living expenses. It excludes loss to automobile and agriculture lines of business and all damage related to the recent mudslides that impacted the same area. This estimate was calculated using RMS high-resolution exposure data and comparisons against historical fire damage, loss, and claim data.
Working with Build Change, an earthquake engineering charity and RMS philanthropic partner, and seeing their work alongside other NGOs all helping Nepal rebuild after the 2015 earthquake, is a source of inspiration for me as I continue my sabbatical in this amazing country. To read about my initial view of the progress made in Nepal, please read my earlier blog.
However, at the start of 2018 this lull was broken with the arrival of storm Eleanor (U.K. Met Office/Met Éireann) / Burglind (Freie Universität Berlin), motivating us to once again check-in on the progress of the storm season. Here we outline the meteorology and impacts of this latest storm, and discuss how it fits into the seasonal forecast issued at the start of the season.
In the early hours of Monday, January 15, 1968, cyclone “Low Q” charged across northern U.K. and smashed the densely populated Central Belt of Scotland with urban winds which have only since been matched when storm Lothar hit southern Paris in late 1999. Glasgow suffered the most intense damage leading to the storm’s more common misnomer of the “Glasgow Hurricane”. This event has quite a low profile today, even in the U.K., and we use its fiftieth anniversary to highlight this exceptional European Windstorm.
“Investing in mitigation action to reduce disaster consequences shows benefits relative to costs multiplied by a factor of X — where X maybe four or seven, or some other number as high as 15.”
As most simply expressed in 2011 by Tom Rooney, U.S. Congressman for Florida’s 17th District “For every US$1 spent on mitigation, US$4 in post-storm cleanup and rebuilding is saved.” And you may have thought — I wonder how they calculated that? But then life is too busy to go into the details, and the statement — that investment in actions to reduce risk shows a fourfold (or sevenfold) reduction in the cost of disasters is very compelling. It implies you could go out and raise the height of a flood wall or strengthen your house and after a few years you would reap a reward in significantly reduced losses.