Company’s head of geo risk research describes 2008 catastrophes to date

Storm activity in 2008 cannot yet be used as an indication of total activity for the year.

That was the assessment of Dr Peter Hoeppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risk Research Department, who added that Hurricane Bertha was “not untypical” of storms seen in the mid-Atlantic in July.

“In the early part of the season, hurricanes generally start a bit more westward, but this is not untypical,” Hoeppe said.

Hoeppe, who was responding to questions during the Natural Catastrophe Webinar 2008 hosted by Munich Re America, added that conditions were right for increased storm activity, given elevated sea surface temperatures.

“In a warmer atmosphere, we will have conditions for more thunderstorms and hurricanes. The conditions are there for that, but what has been seen in the 2008 season to date is by no means proof that a season of elevated activity will take place.”

He quoted a Colorado State University forecast which said hurricane activity could be 60% higher than normal, compared to activity in excess of 100% more than normal in 2005.