U.S. Winter Storms, Tornadoes Caused 27 Deaths and $1 Billion in Losses

  • Highest number of January twisters recorded since 1999: Report
  • Disasters also include wildfire in Chile, floods in Thailand

Damaged trees and homes along Magnolia Street in Hattiesburg, Miss., after a tornado struck on Jan. 21, 2017.

Photographer: John Fitzhugh/Biloxi Sun Herald/TNS via Getty Images

The U.S. was hit by the most January tornadoes in 18 years, in a month when extreme weather caused 27 deaths and more than $1 billion in economic losses, according to a risk modeler.

Insured losses from the natural disasters were “minimally in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Aon Plc’s Impact Forecasting said Wednesday in a report. Storms battered the West Coast and tornadoes struck in the Southeast, prompting emergencies to be declared in Georgia and Mississippi. The 130 tornadoes tentatively confirmed by the National Weather Service were the most in a January since 212 in 1999.

“The most prolific event occurred during the second half of the month, most heavily impacting the states of Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida,” Impact Forecasting said. “Thousands of homes, businesses and other structures were damaged or destroyed.”

Winter storms pummeled the West during the month, with the most significant damage in California caused by “flash flooding, mudslides and debris flows,” according to the report.

Outside the U.S., southern Thailand was savaged by heavy rainfall in which 96 people died, according to the report. “The worst wildfires in Chile’s modern history” caused at least 11 deaths and damaged or destroyed 2,500 structures and vehicles, the risk modeler said.

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