May 24, 2011

This weekend's Joplin, Mo. tornado raised the ante once again for tornado destruction: its death toll and loss estimates are just under half of the total from April's outbreaks.

Citizens of the midwest and southeast — and their insurance companies — are struggling to get a handle on what exactly is going on. Weather events like this are generally unpredictable in the long term. One possible explanation is offered by Mark Paquette, meteorologist for AccuWeather.com, who told Reuters: "La Nina typically has a more active southern jet stream. This spring that has played a role in the severe weather."

Joshua Wurman, president of the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, Colo., added that current conditions — cool air clashing with warm, humid weather — are "very favorable" for tornado formation, the article continues.

Both experts noted, too, the effect of sprawl on tornado losses. More neighborhoods are located where once was farmland, increasing the chances of a higher-density area falling in a tornado's path.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, ...