The tornadoes and thunderstorms that carved a swathe of destruction through the US southeast in late April left as much as $5.5 billion in insured damages, catastrophe experts said Monday.
Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimated the cost at $3.7-5.5 billion for the extraordinarily violent storms of April 22-28, which left 354 dead across seven states.
The deadliest tornado outbreak since 1925 destroyed thousands of homes, including an estimated 5,000 alone in the hard-hit Alabama city of Tuscaloosa.
The disaster saw more than 200 tornado touchdowns, according to AIR, including two rated EF-5, the strongest tornadoes with winds gusting more than 320 kilometers per hour (200 miles per hour).
“These two — the Smithfield tornado in Mississippi and the Hackleburg tornado in Alabama — both occurred on April 27, marking the first time in more than 20 years that two EF-5s occurred on the same day,” AIR’s principal scientist Tim Doggett.
He said there were also 12 EF-4 tornadoes, some with paths extending more than 110 kilometers (70 miles). “In areas of Tuscaloosa affected by the EF-4 tornado, large commercial structures were reduced to rubble,” Doggett said in a statement.
“Many properties closer to the periphery of the tornado sustained significant damage to their roofs and openings …. With the building envelope breached, many sustained subsequent structural damage,” the statement read.
Washington, May 9, 2011 (AFP)