The naturally occurring climate cycle known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will likely be an influential factor in the North Atlantic hurricane activity in the second half of the year, said Munich Re.

In the main months of the hurricane season (August–October), “La Niña” conditions are forecast to develop, which can promote the development and intensification of tropical cyclones over the tropical Atlantic, explained the largest global reinsurer .

Even the wildfire season in California,particularly in the northern section of the state,could be more extreme this year, as La Niña-type conditions typically create unusually dry conditions across the region in autumn, delaying the usual winter rains.

“Of course, here we are only talking about shifts in probabilities with regard to La Niña’s potential impacts this year,” says Mark Bove, Natural Catastrophe Solutions Manager at Munich Re America.

“There is always the chance of a benign wildfire and/or hurricane season. But since background conditions indicate the potential for a more active wildfire season in California and elevated hurricane activity in the Atlantic, it is more important than ever to be well prepared to protect vulnerable populations, especially given the current pandemic situation,”said Bove

Meanwhile,Munich Re has said up to the end of June,natural disasters produced overall losses of around $68bn,a slightly lower figure than the 30-year average (US$ 74bn after adjustment for inflation).

Insured losses, at around US$ 27bn, were higher than usual (US$ 20bn) due to the large proportion of weather disaster losses in North America.

North America accounted for 47% of overall losses and for 82% of insured losses, significantly more than the respective long-term averages (35% and 60%). In contrast, natural disasters in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region produced lower losses.

A total of 2,900 people lost their lives in natural disasters in the first half of the year, much lower than the average figures for both the last 30 years and the last 10 years.

In total, severe thunderstorms in North America were responsible for US$ 27bn of overall losses and for US$ 20bn of insured losses in the first half of the year.

Ernst Rauch, Chief Climate and Geo Scientist at Munich Re, expressed his concern: “While we cannot attribute individual events to climate change, the trend in our data clearly shows that losses from severe thunderstorms, particularly in North America, are on the rise, largely as a result of population and exposure growth in suburban and exurban regions as well as increased property values and poor construction practices. A contribution of climate change is also seen likely because higher temperatures and greater humidity favour the development of weather patterns like these. Even in these times of global pandemic, we should not forget that climate change is also a risk with systemic elements.”

Super-cyclone Amphan and floods in China caused severe overall losses

The worst natural catastrophes occurred in Asia: In May, Cyclone Amphan caused extreme losses in India and Bangladesh. At times, Amphan was a so-called super cyclone – the highest category – with wind speeds of up to 260 km/h. When making landfall in West Bengal on the border with Bangladesh, the storm reached wind speeds of around 150 km/h.

With total losses of around US$ 11.5bn, Amphan was one of the most expensive cyclones in the North Indian Ocean. The insured loss has not yet been determined, but is likely to account for a relatively small proportion of overall losses.

In China, heavy monsoon rainfall from June onwards led to severe river flooding of hundreds of rivers in many parts of the country. More than 100 people lost their lives. It is not yet possible to make a reliable estimate of the damage as the floods continued into July. According to initial estimates, however, the minimum total losses will be in the high single-digit billion range.