It’s not your imagination. The weather in lots of places is getting hotter, windier, and weirder. In September, New York City was hit by its third tornado in the past five years, unprecedented in more than a century of weather records.
For a few minutes on Sept. 16, a macro-burst carved a swath of tree-felling, roof-lifting destruction through Brooklyn and Queens. Remarkably, the storm killed only one bystander. Estimates put the cost of damage from the storm at over $27 million, not including the loss of thousands of city trees.
An unprecedented heat wave and severe drought conditions this summer fueled wild fires in Russia, causing hundreds of deaths and some $15 billion in property loss. Later in the summer, Pakistan experienced cataclysmic flooding, displacing millions and doing some $9.5 billion in damage to housing, infrastructure and farm fields.
Some say these events are part of a normal weather cycle, others say it’s a sign of permanent climate change. Either way, it’s a multi-billion dollar problem. Globally, insured losses from weather events have jumped to an average $27 billion annually from $5 billion over the past 40 years, adjusted for inflation. While rising property values account for part of the increase, a growing share is driven by the intensification and rising frequency of weather disasters, according to an assessment of insured property damage by SwissRe, a Zurich-based reinsurance provider…