Record heat and drought conditions prompt extreme wildfire activity around the globe, according to Aon catastrophe report

Total direct economic losses from Hurricane Ida are anticipated to reach well into the tens of billions (USD), making it one of the costliest US mainland hurricanes on record both on a nominal and inflation-adjusted basis, according to Aon’s Impact Forecasting.

While a sizeable portion of the economic damage due to coastal and inland flooding was not expected to be insured, public and private insurance entities were still likely to have exposures into the double-digit billions (USD).

Hurricane Ida made landfall in the US as a 150 mph (240 kph) Category 4 storm near Port Fourchon, Louisiana on 29 August, killing at least 77 people. The hurricane caused extensive wind, storm surge and inland flood damage across the Southeast before its remnants later resulted in exceptional flash flood damage and convective storm impacts in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on 1 September. 

Steve Bowen, managing director and head of Catastrophe Insight on the Impact Forecasting team at Aon, said: “As larger-scale disasters occur with more intensity and subsequently result in greater impacts, this has put a spotlight on areas where gaps lie in humanitarian and insurance protection.

”This is true regardless of whether a country is identified as developed or emerging. Hurricane Ida’s catastrophic impacts in the United States highlighted how much work is yet to be done to better insure around inland and coastal flooding.”

Further natural hazard events that occurred worldwide in August include:

  • A major and deadly earthquake struck the Tiburon Peninsula of Haiti on August 14, killing at least 2,207 people and injuring 12,268 others. The magnitude-7.2 tremor struck on August 14 with an epicenter 13 kilometers (8 miles) south-southeast of Petit Trou de Nippes. The tremor left nearly 140,000 structures damaged or destroyed in the Sud, Nippes, and Grand’Anse Departments alone. Government officials unofficially estimated $3 billion in economic damage, with most losses uninsured.
  • The worst drought in 91 years continued to affect Brazil, notably in the Paraná River region. Substantial impacts to the agricultural sector became increasingly apparent, with the Department of Agriculture citing up to BRL11 billion ($2.1 billion) in damage to the corn crop alone due to drought and recent bouts of frost. The overall direct economic impact was anticipated to be even higher.
  • Major wildfires burned in Greece from late July into early August, causing significant property and environmental damage. The largest fires burned in northwestern Evia, north of Athens in Attika and in Peloponnese. Two people were killed, and hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed.
  • Severe flash flooding and landslides, triggered by heavy rainfall, caused significant damage in Bartin, Kastamonu and Sinop provinces of Turkey‘s Black Sea Region on August 11, claiming 82 lives. The worst-affected districts were Ulus in Bartin; Azdavay, İnebolu, Bozkurt, Küre and Pınarbaşı in Kastamonu; and Ayancık in Sinop. More than 1,300 residents were evacuated to safety. Total economic losses are expected to exceed $100 million.
  • Dozens of wildfires erupted in northern Algeria amid a scorching heatwave in early August, as temperatures rose above 46°C (115°F) and extremely dry conditions aided in their spread. Among the worst hit was Kabylia region. The event claimed 90 lives, including 57 civilians and 33 soldiers.
  • Continued seasonal monsoon rainfall led to nearly 50 additional fatalities across China in August. The worst floods were noted in southern Shaanxi, Sichuan Basin and the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. Total economic losses to property, infrastructure and agriculture in August tallied CNY17 billion ($1.65 billion). The annual seasonal flood total rose to at least $27 billion.