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El Niño’s Arrival — What Does This Mean For Underwriters?

The official announcement by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week confirmed the occurrence of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

El Niño is normally associated with record breaking temperatures at the global level. Whether El Niño will peak in 2023 or 2024 is not yet known.

There is a 56% of this El Niño being a ‘strong’ episode and an 84% chance of it being at least a ‘moderate’ episode.

The past three years have been dominated by the cooler La Niña pattern.

What Criteria Must Be Met For El Niño?

  1. A defined area of the tropical eastern Pacific must be more than 0.5C warmer than the long-term average.

  2. The warming is expected to continue.

  3. The atmosphere is showing signs of responding to that warming

How Long Does It Last?

Episodes usually last 9 to 12 months.

What Can We Expect?

  1. (September — February) Increased Rainfall in the Southern US (NB this does not mean increased hurricane frequency & severity)

  2. (All Year) Hotter and drier in Northern South America.

  3. (All Year) Droughts over Australia, Indonesia and parts of Southern Asia

  4. (July — November) In Australia we can expect reduced rainfall and higher temperatures, most notably in Southeastern Australia leading to higher risk of bush fire. Expect fewer Tropical Cyclones and associated flooding and high winds

  5. In Europe, the impact of El Niño is not as severe although Spain and Portugal can often see wetter, and warmer winters.

  6. El Niño normally peaks from November to February and peters out again between March and June. In the United States, the effects of El Niño are felt most strongly in winter.

  7. (All Year) El Niño’s warm water can fuel hurricanes in the central/eastern Pacific Ocean, while it hinders hurricane formation in the Atlantic Basin.

2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Expectations

  1. We expect near normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic this year (June 1st 2023 — November 30th 2023).

  2. Predicted there will be a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season.

  3. 12 to 17 total named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher) expected

  4. 5 to 9 expected to become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher)

  5. 1 to 4 expected to become major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher)

WEATHER ANALYTIX™: BirdsEyeView’s Climate Intelligence Platform

WEATHER ANALYTIX™ is BirdsEyeView’s proprietary weather and climate risk modelling software for the insurance market. Through our partnership with the European Space Agency, we provide underwriters with a real-time insight into a specific risks’ exposure to a variety of NatCat and climate variables.

How Do We Run Our Our Calculations?

We extract petabytes of satellite, radar, ground-station and research reanalysis data from the past 43 years. This data is fed, on a Lat Long basis into our WEATHER ANALYTIX™ system. Here, our algorithms run 10,000+ Monte Carlo simulations in realtime at that specific location. These models account for both climate change trending and global weather phenomena such as El Niño.

Why Is This Important?

As an underwriter it’s those tail-risk (1:250 / 1:500 year) events. Simply running a simple historical burn on the data is insufficient. Put simply, if the event hasn't been observed in the past then you will be presented with a probability of “0%” — this isn't useful when trying to understand the likelihood of those ‘freak’ events.

By running thousands of scenarios using high-speed computing we can simulate out these ‘tail’ events, returning the underwriter with a probability figure in seconds. This is akin to the models run by the popular Cat Modelling programmes provided by RMS & AIR, only faster.

How Does WEATHER ANALYTIX™ Account For El Niño?

We first analyse the historical strong El Niño episodes (measured using the Oceanic Niño Index). By observing past episodes, our models can identify patterns and correlations between these events and the resulting weather conditions. These observed trends are subsequently projected into our modelled meteorological occurrence probabilities.

As an underwriter, this is is something you do not need to consider when running models on the system — we handle all of this behind the scenes.

If you’d be interested in learning more then please contact us:

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