West Storm Losses Could Reach $600 Million

January 10, 2008

Catastrophe risk modeling firm Air Worldwide estimates insured losses from the recent west coast winter storm that occrred January 4-8 could reach as high as $600 million, with the vast majority of those losses in California. The estimate reflects losses to property, contents, and direct business interruption and additional living expenses for residential, mobile home, commercial, and auto exposures. They do not include crop losses.

The storm flooded towns, downed power lines, and dropped extraordinary amounts of snow from Washington State to Southern California over the weekend. The Sierra Mountains near Lake Tahoe were hardest hit; 11 feet of snow fell on the popular resort area in just 72 hours. Nearby, at Ward Mountain, the highest winds were recorded on Friday — sustained at 110 mph, gusting up to 163 mph.

According to Dr. Peter Dailey, director of research in atmospheric science at Air Worldwide, “The storm was unlike classic Pacific Northwest winter storms, which tend to concentrate damaging winds along the coasts of Washington and Oregon. The track of this large system was fairly unusual in that some of the strongest winds and heaviest snows were over the northern half of California.”

Spokespeople from California’s Pacific Gas & Electric say they have restored power to nearly all of the residents who lost electricity as a result of the fierce winter storm, which brought hurricane force winds to parts of the west coast. California bore the brunt of the storm. Yet even as residents dig out and clean up from last weekend’s event, another system is moving in from the Pacific. The latest round, however, is likely to be both less intense and further north, over Washington and Oregon.

Source: Air Worldwide

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