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.
When a hail event lasting just minutes hit southern Germany on July 28, 2013, it generated a US$3.9 billion insured loss. Some 80,000 buildings and tens of thousands of automobiles were damaged — many severely. Such a high hail loss was unprecedented in Europe. It was this event that represented the wake-up call for the insurance and reinsurance industry to think harder about the risk due to severe convective storms.
I had the privilege to lead my team of seven modelers from RMS as we attended the ninth European Conference on Severe Storms (ECSS) which took place between September 18-22 this year in Pula, Croatia. This biannual conference sees hundreds of scientists predominantly from Europe and the U.S. but also from other parts of the world. Hail was prominent on the event agenda among the scientific community, and with rising interest in hail damage there is now also a considerable participation from the reinsurance industry. Munich Re is the main sponsor of the conference.