AIR Worldwide estimates that insured losses to residential, commercial and industrial properties and their contents, and to automobiles from the winter storm that struck the U.S. on February 1–February 2, 2011, are between USD $790 million and USD $1.4 billion. The storm has been issued Catastrophe Serial Number (number 35) by ISO’s Property Claim Services (PCS).
The winter storm—one of the largest since the 1950s—affected nearly 100 million people across 30 states. The storm cut a swath across Texas to Canada, dropping more than a foot and half of snow in some regions and bringing high winds, sub-zero wind chill temperatures, freezing rain and ice. Twenty fatalities have now been linked to the storm.
As is common of these storms that occur in the winter months, a large mass of very cold air followed in behind the storm’s front. The storm was able to form when cold Arctic air pushed south from Canada while moist air streamed north from the Gulf of the Mexico. Aside from the sheer size of the storm, the strength of the high pressure system behind this storm was also noteworthy. Pressure readings in Montana at the height of the blizzard were well above 1050 mb―the type of high pressure only seen once every 20 years or so in the U.S. This high pressure, coupled with the low pressure of the cyclone, led to the overall intensity of the storm.
A number of seasonal snow accumulation records were broken. In the Northeast, officials reported a new record in Newark, N.J., which now has 62 inches of snow, compared with the seasonal average of 25 inches. In New York City, 56 inches of snow have fallen on Central Park, compared with an average of 22 inches.
Using the latest available data on the meteorological parameters and storm track of the winter storm together with the AIR Winter storm model for the U.S., AIR Worldwide estimates that insured losses to residential, commercial and industrial properties and contents, as well as to automobiles, are between USD $790 million and USD $1.4 billion.
AIR’s insured loss estimates reflect:
- Insured physical damage to property (residential, commercial, industrial, auto), both structures and their contents;
- Additional living expenses (ALE) for residential claims;
- Business Interruption losses.
They do not reflect:
- Demand surge ( the estimated level of losses from these events is too low to trigger AIR’s demand surge function);
- Non-modeled losses, including loss adjustment expenses and coastal surge.