Floods Dominate June Catastrophes; Will Continue in U.S.

Flood-related catastrophes dominated last month’s as swollen rivers in China and the U.S. caused over $6 billion in losses, according to Aon Benfield/Impact Forecasting’s June Cat Recap issued Thursday.

Direct economic losses for floods in China were $5.41 billion, while U.S. floods resulted in at least $200 million in damages, according to the report.

Thirteen central and southern provinces in China along the Yangtze River Basin experienced heavy rain and flooding in June, causing 199 deaths and damage to 500,000 homes. Over 2.74 million acres of farmland were submerged, Aon said, citing the China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs.

“China has once again been struck by severe weather events that have caused widespread damage and economic loss,” said Steve Jakubowski, President of Impact Forecasting in a statement. “The country has a highly complex risk landscape, and this year has suffered a series catastrophe events including droughts, severe winter weather, several earthquakes, sandstorms and flooding, which individually and in aggregate have been extremely costly from both an economic and human perspective.”

Floods in the U.S. and Canada were focused on the Missouri River and Souris River Basins, Aon says. Flood damage was aggravated by several “controlled water releases” by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers that, while easing record water levels in reservoir sites, resulted in the breach of multiple levees downstream.

Flooding will likely continue create significant losses in the U.S. where the season could rival the Great Flood of 1993, according to a report by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The 1993 event, which lasted from April through August, caused more than $25 billion in damages, according to the NOAA.

“The sponge is fully saturated – there is nowhere for any additional water to go,” said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service said in a statement released Wednesday. “While unusual for this time of year, all signs point to the flood threat continuing through summer.”

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