Compared to 2012, which was a record-setting year in terms of the number of hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes, 2013 was a relatively mild, according to the 2013 “Natural Hazard Risk Summary and Analysis,” from CoreLogic, a residential property information, analytics and services provider.
"Though there have been fewer billion-dollar catastrophes over the course of 2013, history has demonstrated time and time again that a temporary reprieve from natural disasters cannot and should not be expected to continue into the future," said Thomas Jeffery, senior principal scientist for CoreLogic. "Going into 2014, it's important to remember that hazard-driven property damage and loss can and does occur each year, and with the cyclical nature of some of these events, this year should be considered fair warning that next year will likely see a return to the higher average numbers of damaging natural disasters."
Sinkholes took center stage in 2013, CoreLogic said, as three separate sinkhole catastrophes in Florida garnered substantial media coverage, raising awareness of the true risks. A sinkhole in Seffner, Florida formed underneath a man's home, causing his death; a 100-foot sinkhole formed near Clermont, Fla., damaging a tourist villa; and a 90-foot wide, 50-foot deep sinkhole caused two homes in Dunedin to collapse, CoreLogic said. The company recognizes 23,000 identified sinkholes in its database, which suggests sinkholes and resultant property damage will continue to be a substantial risk for Florida residents and across the nation.
There were 13 named storms this year and only two were classified as hurricanes. Hurricane totals were lower than pre-season predictions and disproportionately lower than previous hurricane seasons dating back to 2003, CoreLogic said. No storms directly hit the United States, and there was relatively minor damage related to Atlantic storms. Hurricane Humberto, the first official hurricane of the year, formed on September 11 and was three hours short of setting the record for the latest formation of the season's first hurricane, CoreLogic said.
Flooding was moderate, due in part to the low number of Atlantic storms, CoreLogic said, and flood losses for 2013 are approximated at $2 billion. September floods in Boulder, Colo., damaged or destroyed more than 19,000 homes and set records for rain and flooding, affecting 17 counties in that state.
“Total tornado activity in 2013 was at a historic low, with 229 fewer tornadoes than any year in the past decade as of October 25. Nonetheless, the severity of numerous Oklahoma storms and an unusually violent wave of late-season storms affecting 12 states in the Midwest were no less catastrophic,” CoreLogic said. “Following three days of storms with numerous tornado sightings, on May 20 an EF5 tornado swept a 17-mile path through Moore, Okla., killing 23 people, injuring 377 others, and causing an estimated $2 billion in damage. The widest tornado ever recorded, 2.6 miles at its widest point, struck El Reno, Okla., in early June, resulting in eight fatalities and nearly $40 million in damage.”
Total acreage burned and the number of wildfires in 2013 were lower than last year and the 10-year average, Corelogic said. And, not withstanding California, Colorado, Idaho and Washington, which, in terms of acreage affected perpetuated their 10-year average, the Western states saw lower wildfire activity than in recent years.
“Several individual fires caused massive destruction, including Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire, which destroyed 8,400 acres and 129 homes, and Colorado's Black Forest Fire, which burned 14,000 acres and destroyed or damaged over 500 homes and resulted in a total property loss expected to exceed $300 million,” CoreLogic said. “The Rim Fire, on the outskirts of several densely populated communities approximately 100 miles east of San Francisco, was the third largest fire in California state history, destroying only 11 homes but burning over 257,000 acres, including much of the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park." CoreLogic noted the potential for increased wildfire risk in 2014, based on the probability of increased fuel loads in wildfire areas, as well as drought conditions in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Colorado.
CoreLogic said it generated the report findings based on the company's parcel database and natural hazard risk analytics, as well as data from sources such as the National Climatic Data Center, National Interagency Fire Center, EQECAT Inc. and the National Weather Service.
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