Insured losses from cyclone Xaver, which hit northern Europe last week, could be as much as 1.4bn euro, according to estimates by the catastrophe modelling firm AIR.
The strong extratropical cycline came ashore on Thursday December 5 in Scotland with wind speeds comparable to those of a Category 1 hurricane. It then moved south, across the North Sea, to the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany.
The majority of losses will be in the UK, Denmark and Germany, although losses also occurred in the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Norway.
'Xaver brought with it a potent combination of hurricane-force gusts, torrential rains, and storm surge, which caused significant travel disruption, power outages, and property damage across parts of the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, southern Sweden, and Norway,' said Dr Gerhard Zuba, senior principal scientist at AIR Worldwide.
'Reported observation data for the storm include gusts up to 148 km/h and 158 km/h in areas along the Danish and German coasts. Comparisons have been made between Xaver and winterstorms Christian, which struck earlier this year, and Anatol in 1999, which also caused significant losses in Denmark. The wind speeds of Xaver were generally not as intense as either of these storms, however.'
AIR is estimating that insured losses of between 700m and 1.4bn. These estimates reflect to property damage and, in Sweden and Norway, damage to insured forestry. They do not reflect damage caused by tidal surges and inland flooding, interruptions to businesses and losses to infrastructure.
While the size of claim is expected to be relatively low, AIR said the volume of claims would be significant because of the size of the area affected by the storm.
Xaver is the second severe storm of the 2013/14 winter, following Christian, which hit in October. Zuba noted that, by comparison, the last winter season was relatively quiet, while the season before that experienced a series of storms affecting Europe.
'This sort of clustering is typical for the region, where seasons with very low activity and corresponding damage can be followed by seasons with very high activity and correspondingly high accumulations of insured losses,' he said.
The UK experienced the brunt of Xaver, with its strong winds disrupting power to nearly 100,000 homes in Scotland and more than 6,500 in Northern Ireland. The storm surge caused a difference of two meters in water height between the front and back of the Thames Barrier, leading the barrier to be closed for two days.
In Germany, officials reported a surge of four meters above sea level in Hamburg and on December 6, the city closed down all 38 of its flood gates. Several streets in Hamburg's harbour area were submerged under six meters of water.