Articles | Volume 10, issue 1
15 Jan 2010
 | 15 Jan 2010

No upward trend in normalised windstorm losses in Europe: 1970–2008

J. I. Barredo

Abstract. On 18 January 2007, windstorm Kyrill battered Europe with hurricane-force winds killing 47 people and causing 10 billion US$ in damage. Kyrill poses several questions: is Kyrill an isolated or exceptional case? Have there been events costing as much in the past? This paper attempts to put Kyrill into an historical context by examining large historical windstorm event losses in Europe for the period 1970–2008 across 29 European countries. It asks the question what economic losses would these historical events cause if they were to recur under 2008 societal conditions? Loss data were sourced from reinsurance firms and augmented with historical reports, peer-reviewed articles and other ancillary sources. Following the same conceptual approach outlined in previous studies, the data were then adjusted for changes in population, wealth, and inflation at the country level and for inter-country price differences using purchasing power parity. The analyses reveal no trend in the normalised windstorm losses and confirm increasing disaster losses are driven by societal factors and increasing exposure.