Storm Clusters Will Bring Difficult Winter for Europe: RMS

Chris Westfall
Chris Westfall

Last week’s Windstorm Andrea may part of a larger phenomenon that could lead difficult year for European insurers as the Continent faces a series of storm “clusters.”

Windstorms that began in Northern Europe in late November 2011 and pounded its shores last week are characteristic of storm “clustering,” according to a statement from Risk Management Solutions (RMS).

“The large scale weather patterns have produced several small to moderate windstorms in the last [six] weeks affecting parts of Scotland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark with a heightened frequency that is characteristic of what is known as windstorm clustering,” said Neena Saith, director of catastrophe response at RMS.

Windstorm Andrea brought strong winds to the U.K. last week and caused transportation disruption, power outages and tree fall across central and southern U.K, according to RMS. That storm was preceded by several other systems, including Windstorms Xavier. Yoda, Friedhelm, Joachim, Patrick, Robert and Ulli.

Clustering is usually defined as a group of storms occurring over a short time and that are focused on a particular geographical region.

“The 2011/2012 Windstorm season is shaping up to be fairly active compared to the past 10 or so years in northern Europe,” Saith added. “The moderate nature of the 2011/12 storms, however, means that so far damage has been very light, particularly compared to historical clustering series such as in 1990 and 1999, when a highly positive North Atlantic Oscillation brought a number of much more intense large-scale windstorms across Northern Europe – the potential for which is of most concern to the insurance world.”