Three Things to Know About the Midwest Tornado Outbreak

Source: CoreLogic, Inc.
© 2021 CoreLogic,Inc., All rights reserved.

Kentucky was the hardest hit state 

  • On Friday evening, December 10, a deadly series of tornadoes broke out across six states: Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.
  • The largest cities impacted by these tornadoes included Mayfield and Bowling Green, Kentucky. The tornado to impact Mayfield was quickly and preliminary rated an EF3 however, it is likely that it will be upgraded to at least an EF4 over the next day or two as structural engineers and meteorologists review the damage via ground surveys.
  • The most destructive storm tracked from Northeast Arkansas, through the Missouri Bootheel, across far Northwest Tennessee and through Central Kentucky spawning at least one long-tracked deadly tornado.  This tornado spanned nearly the entire path of the storm itself, over 250 miles leaving utter devastation in its path.
  • Preliminary data shows Kentucky had 11,762 residential structures impacted and likely destroyed, with a total reconstruction value of $2.9B. This valuation is structure only. A homeowners insurance policy includes contents and additional living expense – so a full loss payout on an insurance policy could be double the structure reconstruction cost.
Chart displaying likely residential building impacts

This 250-mile tracked tornadic event was extremely rare

  • This storm originated from a powerful cold front that was intensified by an unseasonably large ‘warm sector’ – a combination of strong wind shear and warm moist surface temperatures in the Gulf.    
  • December tornadoes are not rare. However, it is unusual to have such a long tracked, powerful storm produce strong and violent tornadoes at any time of year. 
  • As of Monday morning, there have been 60 reported tornadoes per the National Weather Service and that number could increase. The catastrophic event caused at least 74 fatalities, making it the deadliest December tornado outbreak on record and among the 15 deadliest in any month
  • Over the coming days as storm damage surveys occur, The National Weather Service will make the determination if the tornado stayed on the ground continuously. If the determination is made that it did remain on the ground continuously, it will go down in history as the longest tornado path ever recorded.

Insured losses are likely to exceed $1 Billion, adding to an already high catastrophe loss year

  • December is late in the year for severe storm losses and caps a year that included an unprecedented ice storm that severely impacted Texas and Louisiana’s Hurricane Ida that re-strengthened and caused significant flooding in the U.S. Northeast.
  • Tornado activity in 2021 is approaching the 3-year trailing average of annual tornado occurrences. The event this weekend reminds us it is not the frequency of events in a year that drives the loss, but the intensity and the location of the event that drive the loss.
  • Insured losses from this event are likely to exceed $1 Billion, with the bulk of the losses expected in Kentucky.

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