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Cold March Costs Europe $1.8bn – Meanwhile US Sees Lowest Tornado Activity Since 1978

Severe winter weather that affected much of Europe during March has caused at least 30 deaths and economic losses of €1.4bn ($1.8bn), according to a report from Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting division.

The losses include €706m ($914m) in France alone, where more than 100,000 insurance claims were filed, with auto claims surpassing $151m.

The late-season winter weather brought an extended period of snowfall, sub-freezing temperatures, high winds, ice and flooding. The hardest-hit areas were France, Germany and Ukraine, where snow accumulations topped 50cm.

“The run of frequent winter weather we witnessed in January and February lingered across many of the major economies in the Northern Hemisphere in the month of March,” said Impact Forecasting president Steve Jakubowski. “However, the level of losses sustained has not been overwhelming for the industry despite the volume of events during the first quarter of 2013.”

Heavy snowfall engulfed northern sections of Japan between the end of February and early March. At least nine storm-related fatalities were recorded as snow depths up to 5.5 metres were seen in Hokkaido and northern Honshu, which resulted in local governments spending more than ¥1.36bn ($14.2m) in clean-up costs.

Multiple winter storms also affected central and eastern sections of the US, as an early March weather system killed five people and brought heavy snow and coastal flooding along the Eastern Seaboard. Total combined economic losses from both systems were cited as less than $100m.

A strong derecho event (defined as a long-lived, intense squall line) left widespread hail and wind damage throughout the US. Southeast. Mississippi was among the hardest-hit states. The state insurance department estimated that as many as 50,000 claims would be filed. Total economic losses throughout the region exceeded $250m, while insurance losses reached approximately $150m.

Preliminary data from the US Storm Prediction Center indicate that only 17 tornadoes touched down during the month, representing the fewest number of March tornadoes in the US since 1978, when 17 tornado touchdowns were also recorded.

Meanwhile, severe weather prevailed in Asia, highlighted by a strong tornado that killed at least 35 people in Bangladesh’s Brahmanbaria district.

In China, an extended stretch of hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes killed 29 people, damaged or destroyed 331,250 homes, and resulted in an economic loss estimated at $443m

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