Losses tied to Hurricane Ian have made the 2022 North Atlantic hurricane season the third-most expensive to date with insured losses of approximately $65 billion and overall losses of around $110 billion, excluding the National Flood Insurance Program, according to a report from Munich Re on Wednesday.
Although the North Atlantic season produced fewer storms than originally forecast, Hurricane Ian became one of the strongest hurricanes to ever make landfall in the US and caused “devastating damage,” the report said.
The 2022 season featured 14 hurricanes, eight of which reached hurricane strength, with two reaching the most severe categories 3, 4 and 5. This put storm activity above the long-term average from 1950-2021 of 12.2 named storms, 6.4 hurricanes and 2.7 severe hurricanes, but below the average since 1995 for a storm-active warm phase in the North Atlantic of 15.7 storms, 7.7 hurricanes and 3.6 severe hurricanes, the report said.
“At the beginning of the hurricane season, all research institutes, including Munich Re, had expected a higher number of hurricanes due to prevailing La Niña conditions,” the report said. “This year, however, unusually dry air in higher layers of the atmosphere and temporarily cooler water temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic meant that only a few and mostly weaker storms developed early in the season until the end of August.”
The season then “picked up” in September with Hurricane Ian, the fifth-strongest storm to hit the US in over 100 years of recordkeeping, with estimated losses of some $60 billion, Munich Re said, adding three additional hurricanes occurred in November, the report said.
The most expensive hurricane season to date remains 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the region around New Orleans with insured losses of $86 billion and overall losses of $175 billion, both adjusted for inflation, making Katrina the most expensive hurricane of all time.