Weekend tornadoes that ripped through North Texas, killing 11, caused $1.2 billion worth of insured damage, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Insurance Council of Texas.
Also Tuesday, National Weather Service survey crews reported that a tornado struck Farmersville Saturday night, raising the number of twisters that pounded Collin, Dallas, and Ellis counties from nine to 10.
This year, 74 tornadoes touched down in the weather service’s 46-county North Texas region — the most tornadoes in a year in the region since reliable data became available in 1950.
The cost of the damage from Saturday’s night of destruction is likely to increase as crews continue assessing damage, said Mark Hanna of the Insurance Council of Texas in Austin.
The tornado damage is among the area’s costliest in recent years, surpassing the $1.1 billion caused by hailstorms that hit Tarrant and nearby counties on May 5, 1995.
Saturday night’s total includes damage to neighborhoods, vehicles and commercial property.
“The loss includes nursing homes and strip malls,” Hanna said Tuesday. “There’s part of a downtown with damage.”
In Ellis County, more than 100 homes were damaged, officials have said. Rowlett had just over 100.
In Garland, where 600 residences were damaged or destroyed, an EF-4 tornado packing over 150-mph winds killed eight people. Three people died in Collin County.
2015 a tough weather year
Texas had successive waves of severe weather in 2015, resulting in many insurance claims and property and auto losses, according to the insurance council.
Record rainfall in the spring and again in the fall flooded homes and submerged vehicles statewide, with Austin and Houston hardest hit.
In late March, multiple severe thunderstorms swept across Texas, producing large hail, tornadoes and heavy rain. The spring storm season ended with flooding from the Red River to the Texas Gulf Coast.
“Windstorm losses in both April and May were much higher than 2013 and 2014,” Hanna said in a November news release. “There wasn’t one catastrophic storm that caused all of the damage. It was a nonstop pattern of severe storms that literally blanketed the entire state.”
The amount of paid residential property losses in April and May was close to $900 million from 114,000 claims. Those losses don’t include vehicles or businesses.
By comparison, last year, both months accounted for $650 million in paid residential losses for 72,000 claims.
Texas business owners and homeowners reported almost 8,000 flood claims to the National Flood Insurance Program from the spring storms. By comparison, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma for the same period had 579 claims, according to the insurance council.
The destruction didn’t stop in the summer, when Texas was in a drought. By the end of summer, wildfires erupted in North and Central Texas with the Bastrop area losing nearly 60 homes.
“Nearly all year long, it’s been one after the other,” Hanna said. “It’s just not been small pockets of the state, but large areas.”
He has been in the insurance industry for more than 20 years.
“I haven’t seen anything like it,” he said. “From March until now, it’s been nonstop.”
The state’s most expensive storm was Hurrican Ike in the Galveston and Gulf Coast region in 2008, which caused $12 billion in insured losses, according to the insurance council.