Contact For Immediate Release
Mark Hanna May 12, 2008
Texas Severe Weather on the Increase
Tornadoes, high winds and hail storms have struck Texas this year causing insured losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Across the nation violent thunderstorms with outbreaks of tornadoes have caused more than $3 billion in insured losses this year alone. The worst may still lie ahead.
Greg Carbin of the National Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma says we’ve been experiencing a very active flow of turbulent weather feeding across the South and Midwest. “The contrast between the colder wintertime air masses and the warmer sub-tropics, coupled with an active jet stream, have contributed to a number of fairly widespread severe weather outbreaks,” Carbin said. “Some of these dramatic weather episodes have produced killer tornadoes.”
Carbin said nationwide, preliminary data indicate a record or near record for tornadoes in January and February and May is beginning in fairly typical fashion with the most recent outbreak occurring this past weekend when 22 people were killed in severe weather outbreaks in Oklahoma, Missouri and Georgia.
Nationwide, direct tornado-related fatalities are now at or near 100. This is the highest annual number in a decade and the year is not half over.
Texas’ insured losses in the first quarter of the year amounted to $270 million. Much of that destruction came from severe thunderstorms that raked north Texas with tornadoes, straight-line winds and hail storms. Only Georgia, Tennessee and California experienced worse losses earlier this year.
Gary Kerney with the Insurance Service Office Property Claim Services said severe weather has resulted in catastrophic losses of $3.35 billion for the first three months of the year. He said the losses represent the worst first quarter results in a decade. “More than 600,000 claims were reported in 22 states with the majority of the losses coming from damaging winds, large hail, flooding, tornadoes and a winter storm,” said Kerney.
Mark Hanna with the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) says Texas averages 150 tornadoes each year and that the month of May usually records the highest number of tornadoes and the highest number of fatalities.
“The deadliest tornado in Texas history occurred on May 11, 1953, killing 114 people in Waco,” Hanna said. “Many Texans will never forget other deadly May tornadoes such as Lubbock, Saragosa and Jarrell that combined killed 83 people.”
The March 28, 2000 tornado, that struck downtown Fort Worth, remains the costliest tornado on record in Texas, with insured losses set at $445 million.
Businesses and homeowners can protect their property from destructive winds, hail and wind blown debris by purchasing windstorm coverage. Comprehensive or other than collision coverage in auto insurance offers similar protection for vehicle owners.
For more information on tornadoes and severe weather in Texas, turn to ICT’s Web site at http://www.insurancecouncil.org/insurancefacts.asp. For information on preparing for a storm and its aftermath, turn to ICT’s brochure, Storm Watch, at http://www.insurancecouncil.org/consumertips.asp#37.
The Insurance Council of Texas is the largest state insurance trade association in the country consisting of more than 500 property and casualty insurers writing business in Texas.