Estimate includes the privately insured damage to residential, commercial, and industrial properties and vehicles
Cat modeller KCC estimates that the insured losses from Winter Storm Elliott will be $5.4 billion across 42 states. This estimate includes the privately insured damage to residential, commercial, and industrial properties and automobiles.
The most impacted states are Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and New York. The freezing temperatures account for the vast majority of the loss which can result in widespread infrastructure disruptions and burst pipes throughout the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.
Commercial losses are projected to account for over 50% of the insured losses. Winter Storm Elliott had key differences from the 2021 Artic Air Outbreak which lessened its potential impacts.
Most significantly, the duration of the coldest temperatures in Texas were half as long relative to the 2021 event. Elliott did however bring colder sub-freezing temperatures to the Southeast of the US, which were not severely impacted during the 2021 winter storm.
On 21 December, Elliott brought frigid arctic air southward into the US, plummeting the temperatures to under 20°F below average across most of the Eastern US. Sub-freezing temperatures reached the Gulf Coast and lingered over the Southeast US where tens of thousands of homes and businesses were without power from high winds that had occurred on the warm side of the arctic cold front.
The frigid arctic air mass fueled lake effect snowfall over the Great Lakes and historic blizzard conditions that lasted over 36 hours in Buffalo, NY.
On 24 December, a potent extratropical cyclone formed and explosively deepened 24mb over 24 hours, earning the title “bomb cyclone”, to a central pressure of 963mb and brought high winds of over 40mph to the Great Lakes region.
Sub-freezing temperatures reached the Gulf Coast and lingered over the Southeast US where tens of thousands of homes and businesses were still without power from high winds that had occurred on the warm side of the arctic cold front.
The intense winds interacted with the warm water of the Great Lakes to fuel robust lake effect snowbands. If Elliott were to have occurred later in the winter season when the lake surface temperature was colder or frozen over, the lake effect snowfall would have been less intense.
Meteorologically Winter Storm Elliott differed from the February 2021 Arctic Air Outbreak because that was primarily an arctic air outbreak with a few weak low-pressure systems, none of which produced prolonged blizzard conditions.
Other comparative historic arctic air outbreaks included January 2011, December 1989, and December 1983. The closest analog event to Elliott is December 1989 which also featured a strong extratropical cyclone, although that storm was confined to the Southeast coast and did not impact as large a region of the US as Elliott did.