Hurricane-force gusts recorded in the UK as Storm Isha made landfall
Updated February 1, 2024
The U.K. Met Office named Storm Isha — also named Iris, according to the Free University of Berlin — on Jan. 19. This is the ninth named storm of the 2023-2024 European windstorm season.
Insured Loss Estimate Expected To Be Between €400M – €750M (£341M – £640M)
CoreLogic® Hazard HQ Command Central™ updated its preliminary industry insured loss estimate for Storm Isha (Iris) to EUR 400 million – EUR 750 million (341 million pounds – 640 million pounds), utilizing newly available, validated wind gust observation data from the U.K. Met Office. The updated estimate also includes losses from wind damage to buildings and contents, as well as business interruption to residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural properties across the U.K., Republic of Ireland, and affected countries in continental Europe.
The majority of the losses are in the U.K. and Ireland. Modeled insured losses in the U.K. and Ireland account for EUR 340 million – EUR 640 million (290 million pounds – 546 million pounds). Storm Isha’s wind damage in continental Europe accounts for the remaining losses, which are equivalent to less than 20% of the total.
The modeled loss range magnitude is a result of both Storm Isha’s unique meteorological characteristics and the fact that Storm Jocelyn (named Jikta by the Free University of Berlin) closely followed Isha. This rapid succession of wind storms complicated the assignment of losses. Isha’s wind footprint covered an unusually large area of the U.K., relative to recorded historical events. According to CoreLogic’s Eurowind™ historical catalog, the closest footprint match dates to the 1970s, making this extent of U.K. impact from this event remarkable.
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Hazard HQ Command Central released an initial insured loss estimate range of 100 million pounds to 250 million pounds (EUR 117 million – EUR 293 million) based on preliminary wind observation data. This estimate includes building, contents, and business interruption losses resulting from only the wind damage to residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural property in the U.K.
Widespread Wind Footprint Covers the UK
Isha’s wind footprint primarily affected the U.K. and Ireland. This storm is notable for its reach; it covered the majority of the British Isles with relatively high gusts, including recorded wind speeds greater than 90 mph in select locations.
Isha formed off the east coast of the U.S. on Jan. 19 and was propelled rapidly across the Atlantic Ocean by a strong jet stream. By 6:00 p.m. UTC on Sunday, Jan. 21, the central low-pressure center (approximately 955 millibars) was located about 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of Ireland and strong winds began to move overland in western Ireland.
From early Sunday evening and into the night, Isha’s central low continued to track northeast, moving a few hundred kilometers north of Scotland. As it traveled, it brought high wind gusts across a vast swath of the U.K., spreading initially from the far north of Scotland and then moving to southeast England. Weather stations in Capel Curig, Wales and Brizlee Wood, Northumberland recorded gusts of 90 mph and 99 mph, respectively.
During the early hours of Monday, Jan. 22, as the central low moved further to the northeast, gusts affected the coastal regions of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark.
By 9:00 a.m. UTC on Monday, the central low was located west of Norway, and due to the large wind field, it led to high wind speeds in the Baltic Sea region. As Isha continued to track northeast over the day, it led to further strong gusts in Norway before beginning to die out by the end of Monday.
Storm Isha led to significant infrastructure disruption across Ireland, the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, and the coastal areas of the Baltic Sea. Airline companies canceled or altered hundreds of commercial flights across Western Europe. Over 350,000 properties suffered power outages in the U.K., and over 200,000 properties experienced power outages in Ireland. Large amounts of rainfall accompanied the storm, making it the wettest Jan. 21 on record in the U.K. The intense precipitation added to the already-saturated ground, leading to localized flooding in some areas of northeast Scotland.
A Very Active European Windstorm Season
The 2023-2024 European windstorm season has been relatively active to date. On Jan. 22, shortly after Isha, Storm Jocelyn (also named Jikta by the Free University of Berlin) became the 10th event named by Met Éireann. Unlike Isha, Jocelyn reached maturity prior to arriving in Europe. Its track was located further north, leading to lower gusts and associated damage. The impact of Jocelyn could exacerbate the recovery efforts from Storm Isha.
The European Meteorological Network Western Group began naming storms in 2015, and the 2015-2016 season marks the current maximum number of 11 named storms. The likelihood of 2023-2024 exceeding this number remains high.
The high activity of the current season is due to the position of a relatively strong jet stream. However, this season’s activity is less remarkable relative to seasons before 2015-2016, when naming began.
CoreLogic’s Eurowind™ Model’s 63-year-long historical storm catalog shows that the number of impactful storms is subject to natural variability. Secular changes in rates over that period are hard to detect as they are small compared to this uncertainty.
According to the latest scientific studies, climate change may lead to a shift in storm tracks, resulting in small increases in the rate of damaging European windstorms over the U.K. However, model uncertainty is very high compared to projected loss impacts. On a seasonal basis, natural variability will continue to be the main source of loss uncertainty.
CoreLogic Hazard HQ Command Central™ will update the modeled insured loss estimate and provide modeled loss guidance once more data is available from the U.K. Met Office.
Contact: Please email [email protected] with questions about Storm Isha or any CoreLogic event response notifications. Visit www.hazardhq.com for updates and information on catastrophes across the globe.
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