According to preliminary estimates by the Insurance Information Institute, the blizzard that blanketed the northeast over the Christmas holiday weekend was, in terms of insurance losses, less severe than snowstorms in the same area earlier in the winter of 2010.
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service say that the storm which hit from the eastern shore of Maryland to Maine left 20 inches of snow blanketing Central Park in New York City. The storm was the sixth heaviest in the history of New York, but was still not that significant as an insurance event.
By comparison, a storm that lasted from February 11-12, 2006 dumped 26.9 inches on Central Park, just barely exceeding the previous record, which had stood since 1947.
In the first half of 2010, storms in the same area ran up insured losses totaling $2.4 billion, but those storms were marked by persistent power outages, a serious complication residents were spared over Christmas.
Robert Hartwig, president and chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute said, “The heavy wet snow of the earlier storms compromised a significant number of structures, causing roof collapses, ice damming, water damage, and business interruption claims. This storm produced minimal power outages and the very light nature of the snow that fell, while in great depth, was far less destructive.”
On the west coast in southern California, however, damages due to heavy rains in the week before Christmas have cause damages that will run into the tens of millions of dollars according to experts, with more rain on the way for the region in the coming week.