Twenty years ago, while the planet was getting ready for transitioning to year 2000 and trying to solve the Y2K bug, the (re)insurance industry in Europe got caught by surprise by windstorm Lothar. Even today, 1999 remains a historic windstorm year, with catastrophic storms Anatol (December 3), Lothar (December 26) and Martin (December 28) all happening within a period of less than a month.
Lothar tracked across northern France, southern Belgium and central Germany and into Poland; Martin tracked through southern Europe – affecting France, Spain, Switzerland and Italy. Between Lothar and Martin, 140 people were killed, and losses ran over €14.2 billion economic losses, approximately €7.7 billion of which was insured. If the three events happened today, they would cost approximately €20 billion (US$23.3 billion) to the (re)insurance industry.
At the time, I was still living in Geneva with my parents. I remember waking up the day after Christmas and seeing fallen trees in our garden and our telephone line was cut. It was very dramatic and since then, no other windstorm has caused that kind of damage in this region.
In commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of windstorms Anatol, Lothar and Martin, I have asked my colleagues at RMS to share their experience of the storms.
July 2013, and Central Europe was just recovering from severe floods during May and June when a series of severe convective storms surprised the (re)insurance industry. On July 28, hailstorm Andreas hit the Stuttgart region in southern Germany, causing widespread damage to property and automobiles. Andreas is also especially remembered as hailstorm Bernd hit the north of Germany the day before on July 27.
Overall, those two events caused approximately US$4 billion in insured losses to the (re)insurance industry. This was the highest insured loss during 2013, and the largest severe convective storm insured loss ever recorded in Europe; above Munich in 1984 (equivalent to US$5.4 billion overall and US$2.7 billion insured loss in today’s value) and Hilal in 2008 (US$1.5 billion insured).
On March 12, 2018, an EF2 tornado struck the Italian city of Caserta, located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of Naples. The tornado caused damage to cars, buildings, and road infrastructure, with 15 people reported injured.
This was a classical supercellular tornado. This type of tornado forms in a specific type of supercellular thunderstorm, which has the peculiarity of having a vortex of rising air inside — called a mesocyclone, and this is where tornadogenesis starts. Rainfall in the thunderstorm produces a downdraft, called rear-flank downdraft (RFD) in this case, which enters the mesocyclone from the back. The combined updraft (from the mesocyclone) and downdraft (from the RFD) create a tornado.
Michèle Lai, Product Manager, RMS
Contributors: James Cosgrove, Analyst – Event Response, RMS; Juergen Grieser, Director, RMS
The European severe convective storm (SCS) season has kicked off. The heatwave that scorched the continent for the best part of a week set the ideal conditions for deep convection. I am based at the RMS Zürich office, and as everyone enjoyed this heatwave, cooling off by going swimming after work, the potential risk of thunderstorms was never too far from our minds.
The season started with a series of supercells hitting France on June 13 and June 15, continued Thursday, June 22 in Germany and then moved on towards eastern Europe.
Although usually less severe than their U.S. counterparts, SCS in Europe can produce extensive losses, such as Andreas in 2013 with EUR 2.9 billion insured losses (2013 USD $3.9 billion) and Ela in 2014, EUR 2 billion insured losses (2014 USD $2.2 billion).