The severe weather outbreak across parts of the US that killed at least 13 people and injured more than 200 others late last month tops the list of natural disaster perils analysed in Aon Benfields latest monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report.
Published today by catastrophe modelling centre Impact Forecasting, the report says that total economic and insured losses from the outbreak in February are likely to reach into hundreds of millions of dollars. The storm involved at least 36 confirmed tornado touchdowns and hail and damaging winds in more than 10 US states.
Steve Jakubowski, president of Impact Forecasting, noted that the start of March signalled the beginning of the US severe weather season, a period where increased activity was historically reported across central and eastern sections of the country.
'Following last year's record number of tornado-related casualties and the nearly $26bn in insured losses sustained due to severe weather events, there is a heightened sense of awareness for the peril in 2012,' he said.
In Eastern Europe, extreme cold and snow continued to have an impact during the first half of February, the report said. At least 824 people died as a result of the extreme weather, while total economic losses in Serbia alone were estimated at 350m.Even higher losses are expected as impacts from the freezing of the Danube River are realised, it added.
Winter weather also led to damage and fatalities in parts of Asia. Separate blizzards in Tibet, China, caused 'upwards of $25bn' in economic damages, the report sad, while in India, avalanches caused by heavy snowfall left at least 16 people dead.
Meanwhile, in Australia, parts of south-west Queensland and northern New South Wales were worst hit by flooding last month. The Insurance Council of Australia declared a catastrophe and at least 5,657 claims were filed, with payouts in excess of AU$111m.
Widespread damage from flooding, with reports of fatalities, was also reported in Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Bulgaria, Greece, the Philippines and Canada.
The Philipines was also hit by a magnitude-6.7 earthquake, leaving at least 116 people dead or missing and 112 injured. Causing extensive damage to homes and infrastructure, the totasl economic losses are estimated to be near to $1bn, with total insured losses expected to be around $100m.
The report also highlighted the impact of Cyclone Giovanna, which made landfall in central Madagascar. Killing at least 35 people and injuring 81 others, the damage to infrastructure, homes and agriculture also caused by the cyclone means total economic losses are estimated at around $100m.