Freak weather

For most, the worst effects of the UK heatwave this summer were sunburn and hangovers. However, the balmy 30s in the UK were matched by more dangerous 45-degree heat in Europe. And it seems that incidences of extreme weather are both rising and doing so more quickly than anticipated. News in recent weeks has revealed high-impact weather events that have caused devastation across the world. Hurricane Dorian ripped through the Caribbean and up the East Coast of the US to Canada, causing an estimated $7bn damage in the Bahamas alone (~60% of the Bahama’s $12bn GDP). Hot on its tail, Hurricane Umberto is barrelling towards Florida. Meanwhile, typhoons Faxai and Lingling have been causing significant destruction in Eastern Asia. It is hurricane season, and these are parts of the world with a history of extreme weather; however, this is still abnormal. Storm frequency has been increasing at a rate of 30% per decade since the ‘80s, with attendant increases in remediation cost, mainly to real estate. A report by the National Centers for Environmental Information finds that the current run rate is $150bn dollars each year in the US, with the number of $billion+ dollar events rising from ~5 in the ‘80s to 14 last year. Do we need to worry in the UK? 2019 will be one of the top three hottest years on record. A government report analysing flood risk potential shows a range of scenarios for change over the next 100 years. At present damage from flooding accounts for ~0.1% of GDP. In scenarios where current commercial activity prevails, this figure is expected to quadruple, with urban commercial properties most at risk. The topic of weather impacts becomes an increasingly important one for investors with long-term horizons.