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Windstorm season losses double the average

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Global insured losses from this year’s hurricane and typhoon season are estimated at about $US25 billion ($34.6 billion), about one-third of last year’s but still twice the average, Munich Re says.

Economic losses of about $US51 billion ($70.6 billion) are well below last year’s $US220 billion ($304 billion) but above the long-term adjusted average of $US34 billion ($47.1 billion).

In Japan five storms made landfall or came close at typhoon strength in a highly active season. The reinsurer says insured losses of $US6 billion ($8.3 billion) were reported from Typhoon Jebi.

In the North Atlantic hurricanes Michael and Florence caused insured losses of $US10 billion ($13.8 billion) and $US4 billion ($5.5 billion) respectively.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the Atlantic hurricane season, which finished last month, featured 15 named storms, compared with the long-term average of 12, while eight became hurricanes compared with the average of six.

But Michael and Florence were the only two major hurricanes, defined as Category 3 or more in strength, compared with an annual average of three.

Accumulated cyclone energy, which measures the combined strength and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes, was above normal. Seven systems were subtropical at some point in their lifetimes this season, eclipsing the previous record of five in 1969, the NOAA says.

The Insurance Information Institute says Florence set new rainfall highs in North and South Carolina, while Michael was the first Category 4 system to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle.

“These extraordinary hurricanes highlighted for coastal residents and businesses the importance of disaster preparedness, building resilient structures and insuring properties against both flood and wind-causing damage,” institute CEO Sean Kevelighan said.

Australian catastrophe modelling start-up Reask, which in its first season correctly forecast the above-average number of named Atlantic storms, says eastern Pacific activity has been well above average, with 23 named storms.

Last year the Atlantic region endured one of its most active seasons, with 17 named storms and six major hurricanes, including the devastating Harvey, Irma and Maria.