Stormy weather: Preparing property to ride out more frequent & severe convective storms
Warm air rises. It’s a lesson that many of us remember from science class. When it does, carrying moisture with it, it results in an atmospheric phenomenon called convection, which quite simply, is a weather condition that allows a storm to develop.
Convective storms are essentially thunderstorms, which – depending on whatever other meteorological conditions are present – can often bring with them other weather hazards including lightning, heavy rain, hail and, in some instances, tornadoes. As recent data shows, convective storms are becoming a more frequent and costly occurrences. To minimize property damage and subsequent insurance losses when one of these storms rolls in, we are taking a hard look at how we can better protect properties.
Not exclusive to Tornado Alley
Peak tornado season in the US typically occurs from March through May in the southern states; late June through August in the northernmost states, but tornadoes could occur at any time. In 2019, there has been a steady stream of tornadoes, hail, straight-line wind and convective storms across the US, and not just in Tornado Alley, which refers to more tornado prone areas like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, Ohio, and Minnesota. Nearly 4,400 reports of tornadoes, hail and straight-line winds were reported in May of this year alone. Among them, more than 362 tornadoes were recorded, the highest since 2015, when 381 tornado events hit during the month of May.
Tornado season in Europe and western Russia occurs from May to August, but tornadoes have occurred in December and January. According to Dr Pieter Groenemeijer, director of the European Severe Storms Laboratory, Europe has an average of 300 every year. The worst tornado outbreak in Europe occurred on 23 November 1981 in the United Kingdom where 104 tornadoes occurred. Most of these were weak tornadoes but 57 were classified as F1 and 2 were classified as F2 events. Between 31 August and 14 September 1994 there were 23 tornadoes in northern Italy. On 9 June 1984 there were 22 tornadoes in western Russia. There was 1 tornado classified as an F4 and 1 classified as an F5.
Asia is not without their season, tornadoes occur mainly between April and November. There were only a few reported tornadoes in the 1990’s.
From the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, there is no defined tornado season in Australia. Tornadoes are more commonly occur in late spring to early summer but can happen any time. Most of the tornadoes occur in Western Australia, southeastern South Australia, and from the area around south-eastern Queensland to the far north coast of New South Wales. The islands of New Zealand are also prone to tornadoes.
With growing frequency
Some meteorologists and scientists are carefully watching tornado activity and noticing shifts in timing and frequency. According to recent coverage in Scientific American, scientists say they are observing ‘macro-scale’ changes in tornado frequency and variability across the US. And, an analysis of federal disaster spending since 1954 shows that tornadoes are becoming costlier. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data, the agency has spent $7 billion since 2001 on tornado-related damage, which includes $5.3 billion repairing roads, utilities and other public facilities and another $1.7 billion paid to owners of tornado-damaged homes and businesses.