Interactions between apparently 'primary' weather-driven hazards and their cost

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York Flood November 2000
York flood November 2000

Study shows links between major weather events

The Guardian newspaper this week highlighted a recent study by Neil Macdonald (Department of Geography and Planning) and colleagues at Loughborough University and the University of Birmingham analysed long weather and insurance data, identifying intra-annual links between floods, windstorms and shrink-swell damage (often caused by drought). The research has found that the UK's most costly weather events are highly likely linked rather than independent as previously presumed.

The data show that the likelihood of a major flood and windstorm event both happening in a year could be up to one-and-a-half times more likely than caused by random chance. This includes not only pairings that are relatively close in time, such as the heavy floods and storms such as 2013-14, but also when the events are not clearly linked, for example, the extensive rainfall in winter and summer 2007.

The findings could have implications for risk assessment and management, the insurance industry and Government agencies involved in future natural hazard resilience planning, who currently consider these major weather events independently of each other. 

The findings are described in the paper Interactions between apparently ‘primary’ weather-driven hazards and their cost published in Volume 10 of Environmental Research Letters published by IOP Science.