Background information about wind events

Alabama ranks 8th in tornado claims in 2014 study

By Megan Miller. Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News.

According to recent data released by State Farm, Alabama ranks eighth nationally in tornado claims, with more than 4,600 claims across the state in 2014.

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Posted 4/30/2015


This table from the National Hurrican Center shows that Alabama is no more likely to be hit by a hurricane than some north east states.  The statistical record does not support the insurance companies' risk models of hurrican damage.

For a more detailed analysis, go here.

See also this article.

Posted 12/5/2012

Alabama ranked No. 9 among top tornado states by The Weather Channel

By Paul Gattis, The Huntsville Times, March 15, 2012
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You may be surprised to know that, according to The Weather Channel, Florida is more susceptible to tornadoes than Alabama.

The asterisk, however, is that data from the historic April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak is not included in the rankings.

"Instead of taking the raw number of tornadoes to hit each state per year, we checked out the tornado numbers per 10,000 square miles in each state," wrote in explaining its ranking criteria. "Basically, these are the states with the most tornadoes per square mile.

Alabama is actually ranked No. 9 on the list -- behind seemingly unlike tornado hotspots Florida, Maryland and South Carolina.

"It does seem like there are some mini tornado alleys in Alabama," tornado expert Greg Forbes wrote at "Some of them right there at the Tennessee River (Huntsville area) and at the base of the Appalachian mountain chain (the Birmngham area)."

When the tornadoes from 2011 are added to the list, Forbes wrote, "My best estimate is the Alabama will jump up at least two places on the list because of the onslaught of tornadoes they had in 2011."

In putting Florida at the top of the list, Forbes wrote that the state is the "thunderstorm capital of the United States" and tornadoes often form in thunderstorms. Twisters are also common side effects to hurricanes.

Florida has 12.3 tornadoes per 10,000 square miles to lead the list. Alabama has 8.6 tornadoes per 10,000 square miles. Kansas is No. 2 on the list, followed by Maryland, Illinois and Mississippi. Nos. 6-10 are Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana.

Posted 3/17/2012

Alabama: Most tornado-prone state in 2011

From 1/28/2012 article by Elizabeth Prann @

Governor Robert Bentley is working to rebuild parts of his state after it was slammed with raging tornadoes multiple times over the past year. In fact, 177 tornadoes hit Alabama in 2011 making it the state with the highest number of twisters, according to the National Weather Service.  Although tornado season hasn’t quite started yet for most of the country, Alabama is already ranked in the top spot for 2012, with 22 tornado strikes since New Year’s Day.

Coping with severe weather has been a top issue for officials in Alabama. Governor Bentley formed the Tornado Recovery Action Council after tornadoes killed 248 people on April 27, 2011 across the state. Ironically, the recommendations from the council were delivered to the Governor last Monday -- the same day multiple tornadoes ripped through the state, killing two people. In a 117-page report delivered to the governor, the council came up with 20 recommendations: tougher building codes, more tornado shelters and sales tax holidays for storm preparedness and emergency supplies.

Read complete article @
Read more about tornado damage here

Posted 1/28/2012

Insurers could pay more than $1 billion to cover tornado damages

Jeff Amy, Press-Register Apr 29, 2011 8:45 AM - Show original item

Damage from Alabama's tornado outbreak Wednesday will clearly run into the hundreds of millions of dollars and could cross the $1 billion mark, insurance industry experts say. Business claims resulting from extended power outages could add to the tab. And reinsurance losses could drive up the cost of hurricane coverage for coastal residents.

Posted 4/29/2011

Tornadoes Blast Property Insurers


A string of violent tornadoes that coursed through the South has put U.S. home insurers on track to suffer their most expensive year ever for thunderstorm damage, industry experts say.

The years 2008 through 2010 were already the industry's costliest for thunderstorm damage—which includes hail, tornadoes and other severe storms— with a total tab of $30 billion, said Robert Hartwig, president of trade group Insurance Information Institute.

The current year, however, is shaping up to be even more expensive than any of those three, according to Peter Lore, associate vice president for property technical claims with insurance giant Nationwide Insurance. As of April 18, 617 tornadoes had been recorded, compared with 419 and 203 by April 30 of 2009 and 2010, respectively, according to the insurance institute, citing data from the National Weather Service. An assessment of damage in dollar terms won't be produced until industry-wide data are collected at mid-year, Mr. Hartwig said.

Read complete story at

Posted 4/23/2011

Are the coastal counties really more expensive to repair than the rest of the state?

Between 1933 and 1978 -- 45 years -- Alabama did not have a single direct hit from a hurricane.  During that time, 2,250 tornadoes hit around the state, including the famed April 1974 Super Tornado Outbreak that left nearly 80 people dead in upstate Alabama.
Read more interesting facts here

Posted 3/11/2011

U.S. Gulf Coast Faces $350 Billion in Climate Damage by 2030, Study Shows

By Kim Chipman - Oct 20, 2010 2:48 PM ET

The U.S. Gulf Coast may face $350 billion in economic damage by 2030 as extreme weather fueled by climate change wreaks havoc on the region, according to a study released today byEntergy Corp.

The estimate assumes severe weather similar to Hurricane Katrina -- a storm that crippled the region in 2005 -- will occur every generation rather than once a century, according to the study by Swiss Re, a Zurich-based reinsurer, and McKinsey & Co., a New York-based research firm. New Orleans-based Entergy, the second-largest U.S. producer of electricity from nuclear reactors behind Exelon Corp., commissioned the report.

The study recommends spending $50 billion for projects such as overhauling building codes and reinforcing beaches and wetlands to curb losses. The region, which suffers an average annual loss of $14 billion, may lose as much as $23 billion a year from “extreme” climate change, the report said.

“With the multiplier effect, the amount of economic loss to the Gulf Coast could rise to $700 billion, the gross domestic product for the entire region for one year,” Entergy Chief Executive Officer J. Wayne Leonard said today in a statement. The study is a “call to arms for policy makers,” he said. Katrina, the third-deadliest U.S. hurricane, wiped out 80 square miles of marsh within hours when it struck five years ago, four times the average amount lost by all of Louisiana in a year. Scientists say climate change caused by burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal will lead to more frequent and severe storms, droughts and heat waves.

Further, the BP Plc oil spill in April in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst in the U.S., hurt the region’s economy and threatened already fragile ecosystems. Levees, Canals.

The Gulf Coast copes with erosion tied to decades of building canals, levees and dams to control flooding, ease navigation and aid oil-and-gas exploration. Such projects choke off the flow of Mississippi River sediment that sustains wetlands, which harbor plants and wildlife and function as natural sponges to protect coastlines. Taking steps to protect the coastline may let Gulf Coast communities avoid about $135 billion in losses a year, according to the report.

The region has more than $2 trillion in assets, including 50,000 oil and gas structures such as pipelines and wells. That total is expected to increase to more than $3 trillion by 2030, according to the report, which was commissioned by Entergy with America’s Wetland Foundation, a New Orleans-based advocacy group focused on conserving coastal Louisiana.

Posted 10/26/2010


Residential Insurance on the U.S. Gulf Coast
in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

A Framework for Evaluating Potential Reforms
Click to read preliminary report from
A Study by the Institute for Civil Justice

This product is part of the RAND Corporation restricted draft series.  Restricted drafts present preliminary research or prepublication versions of research documents that need to be distributed outside of RAND to the client, a formal reviewer, or potential journal or book publishers. Restricted drafts have not been formally reviewed, edited, or cleared for public release.

Posted 10/21/2010


The NOAA plans to release as many as five drones called Coyotes this summer to venture into the turbulant low level core of hurricanes to better predict the storm's intensity.

Read the complete 6/10/2014 WSJ article

Posted 6/13/2014

NOAA predicts active 2013 Atlantic hurricane season

In its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting an active or extremely active season this year.

For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

Posted 5/25/2013

Forecast: Fewer Hurricanes, More Major Hurricanes
Projected for 2013

Property Casualty 360 3/29/2013 article

This year could see fewer tropical systems gaining hurricane strength than in 2012, but a greater number of storms might intensify to Category 3 or higher, according to a recent forecast.

ImpactWeather -- which serves as the weather department for businesses in fields such as oil and gas, petrochemical, healthcare, financial services and others -- projects between 16-20 named storms for the 2013 hurricane season. In 2012, there were 19 named storms.

ImpactWeather expects seven-to-nine of the projected 2013 storms to reach hurricane strength, fewer than the 10 hurricanes in this past season. But the service says two-to-four storms could reach Category 3 strength or higher, compared to one storm in 2012 that reached major-hurricane strength.

The service’s meteorologist, Chris Hebert, bases the estimation on past-season averages, ocean-temperature trends and the absence of an El Niño influence from the tropical Pacific.

Mark Chambers, president of ImpactWeather, says, “An increasing number of companies, after seeing the effects of hurricanes like Katrina, Ike and Sandy, are implementing strategies to aid them in making the best business decisions possible when confronted by weather-related risk. With even more severe hurricanes on the horizon for 2013, preparedness and planning should be of paramount importance.”

Posted 3/30/2013

NOAA forecasters raise Atlantic storm outlook;
2 or 3 major hurricanes expected

From AP report at

U.S. forecasters are raising their estimate of potential storms in the remainder of the Atlantic hurricane season, which enters its peak period this month.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its updated forecast Thursday. Forecasters say wind patterns conducive to storm formation and warmer-than-normal sea temperatures mean chances are higher for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.

NOAA forecasters say they expect a total of 12 to 17 tropical storms, with as many as five to eight hurricanes, for the season from June 1 to Nov. 30. Two to three of storms could become major hurricanes.

So far this year there have been four tropical storms and two hurricanes.

In May, forecasters had predicted nine to 15 tropical storms, with as many as four to eight storms strengthening into hurricanes.

Posted 8/10/2012

Atlantic hurricane season comes to an end without a storm hitting the Gulf region

Read November 30, 2011, original article by The Associated Press

Say goodbye to the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, which was a study in contradictions: It spared the usual Southern targets while Irene paralyzed the Eastern seaboard and devastated parts of the Northeast with deadly flooding.

The season ends today as the sixth straight year without U.S. landfall of a major hurricane, yet Irene was not considered a major hurricane because it did not have winds exceeding 111 mph, or Category 3, when it made landfall in North Carolina on Aug. 27. "You would think the impacts would be somewhat light, but the damages caused by Irene will be up there in one of the top 30 or so storms," National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read said.

The season produced the third-highest number of tropical storms on record, with 19, but only a slightly higher-than-average number of hurricanes, with six. Read said low pressure systems on the East coast and high pressure systems over the central U.S. created favorable steering currents that kept the storms mostly churning far out to sea. Storms won't move into high pressure, clearing the way for an easy storm season for the U.S. Gulf Coast. An exception was Tropical Storm Lee, which formed off the Louisiana coast and drenched much of the eastern U.S. "It was another very odd year," said Dr. Jeff Masters, Weather Underground's director of meteorology. The rare combination of near-record ocean temperatures but unusually dry, stable air over the Atlantic was partially responsible for the unusually high count of named storms, Masters said.

Hurricane Ophelia was the strongest storm of the season, at one point strengthening to a Category 4 with 140 mph winds when it was just northeast of Bermuda. Ophelia hit southeastern Newfoundland, Canada, as a tropical storm, but caused little damage.

The last major hurricane to hit the U.S. was Wilma, which cut an unusually large swath of damage across Florida in 2005.

Irene caught many New England residents by surprise in late August, following a rare path as it brushed up the Eastern seaboard from North Carolina, across the Mid-Atlantic and near New York City, where meteorologists said they couldn't ever recall a direct hurricane hit. Broadway shows were cancelled as New York officials ordered 370,000 people to leave their homes in low-lying areas and immobilized the nation's biggest subway system. Yet, the city sustained only high winds and heavy rains as a weakened Tropical Storm Irene churned up the coast.

Tropical Storm Irene was by far the most destructive event to hit Vermont in almost a century. Flooding from the storm, which dumped up to 11 inches of rain in some areas, killed six people, damaged or destroyed hundreds of miles of roads, scores of bridges, hundreds of homes and left hundreds of people homeless. About a dozen communities were cut off by the storm for days, many without electricity or phone service and they had to be supplied by National Guard helicopters. Three months after the storm, most of the roads and bridges have received at least temporary repairs, though two bridges remain closed. The final repair estimate for the roads could reach $250 million, which doesn't count damage to private property. The state of Vermont's office complex in Waterbury was inundated, forcing the relocation of the offices of many of the people who worked there as well as the permanent closing of the State Hospital, forcing mental health officials to farm out patients needing the most intensive care. More than 7,000 people asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance. "(The severe flooding) was beyond what most people expected up there so we still have work to do on how to convey how serious the inland flooding events are from these tropical storms," Read said.

Posted 11/30/2011 (Hat tip to Stan Virden)

Busy Atlantic hurricane season had little impact on U.S.: NOAA

by Mark A. Hofmann (Business Insurance)

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Tuesday, was one of the busiest on record but had little impact on the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Monday.

Nineteen named storms formed in the Atlantic basin during this year’s hurricane season, which tied with 1887 and 1995 for third-highest on record. Of those, 12 became hurricanes—tied with 1969 for second-highest on record. Five of those reached major hurricane status of Category 3 or higher.

An average Atlantic season produces 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes, according to NOAA.

“Large-scale climate features strongly influenced this year’s hurricane activity, as they often do,” said NOAA in a statement announcing this year’s hurricane activity. “This year, record warm Atlantic waters, combined with the favorable winds coming off Africa and weak wind shear aided by La Niña energized developing storms. The 2010 season continues the string of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.”

As NOAA forecasters predicted, the Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most active on record, though fortunately most storms avoided the U.S,” said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, in the statement. “For that reason, you could say the season was a gentle giant.”

But hurricanes ravaged other parts of the Atlantic basin, including Haiti, Mexico and Central America.

NOAA noted that in contrast to the active Atlantic hurricane season, the eastern North Pacific season had the fewest storms on record since the satellite era began.

“Though La Niña helped to enhance the Atlantic hurricane season, it also suppressed storms from forming and strengthening in the eastern North Pacific,” said NOAA. Seven named storms formed in the area this year, three of which grew into hurricanes, and two of those became major hurricanes. NOAA said this was the fewest named storms and fewest hurricanes in the area since the mid-1960s.

An average eastern North Pacific season produces 15 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes, according to NOAA.

Read original Business Insurance article

Posted 11/30/2010

Insurance companies have no doubts about global warming

Insurance companies are taking into account the potential for rising water levels and more aggressive hurricanes when considering rates. Marketplace's Scott Tong reports

Read full transcript and view slideshow here


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