|Tornado damage in Oklahoma City, May 9, 2003.
A record season of tornadoes hit North America, with an unprecedented
300 "twisters" striking the US in a single week in May.
|Source: REUTERS/John Sommers
In December, Munich Re, a major reinsurance firm, reported that natural
disasters were set to cause a record US$60 billion of damage in 2003,
with most of the losses coming from weatherrelated catastrophes (Munich
Re 2003). The biggest insured losses were reported in the United States,
where the tornadoes that hit the Midwest in April and May cost insurers
more than US$3 billion. A company representative warned that, "as
extreme weather becomes more or less the norm by the middle of the
century, the extensive losses suffered in the past year provided "glimpse
into the future". The company predicted that the global economic
loss due to extreme weather events would reach US$300 billion annually
by 2050 (Munich Re 2003)