Reinsurance News

Tropical Cyclone Marcus hits Australia’s Darwin and northern coast: AIR

20th March 2018 - Author: Matt Sheehan

Catastrophe risk modelling firm AIR Worldwide has assessed the scale of Category 2 Tropical Cyclone Marcus, which made landfall in Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, on March 17th, 2018, and reviewed the damage it caused.

AIRAIR reports that Marcus was the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the region in 30 years, with a minimum central pressure of 933 mb and maximum sustained winds of 130 km/h.

Marcus downed power lines and trees in Darwin, causing property damage and leaving over 20,000 homes without electricity, before passing on to the northern coast of sparsely populated Kimberley, Western Australia, and finally continuing westward to sea.

According to AIR, over 500 reports of fallen power lines have been received so far, and many buildings and vehicles have been damaged by strong winds and fallen trees.

Transportation has been disrupted as trees and debris continue to block roads, and many schools and businesses remain closed.

Additionally, a boil water order was issued over the weekend due to potential water contamination, and authorities are concerned about floods restricting access to remote areas.

AIR reports that Warruwi, near Darwin on the northern coast of Northern Territory, received approximately 110 mm (4 inches) of rain from Friday to Saturday evening, and tropical downpours could bring north-western Australia another 100-200 mm (4-8 inches).

Insurance claims have already begun to pour in, and the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has assured affected households and business owners that insurers are on standby to deal with the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Marcus as it emerges, as well as the bushfires that ravaged Victoria, in south-western Australia, on the same day.

AIR also notes that the predominantly concrete and steel commercial and industrial building stock in Australia tends to be more resistant to wind damage due to its engineering, although windows and cladding on these structures remain vulnerable to wind-borne-debris.

However, residential builds are largely wood-frame or masonry, often with brick veneer and metal roofs, and are highly susceptible to the strong winds brought by Marcus.

With a population of around 145,000, Darwin is Australia’s smallest capital, but also the largest city in the sparsely populated Northern Territory.

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