Munich Reinsurance America Inc. (Munich Re, US) has developed an immersive Tornado Virtual Reality Experience to help people and businesses understand the devastation wrought by tornados and the need to embrace resiliency to help reduce future property losses and save lives. Preliminary reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have shown that there were an estimated 945 tornadoes in the four months from January to April 2017. With an early and active start to the 2017 tornado season, 34 deaths have already been reported during this period, compared with 18 deaths during all of 2016. Since the 1970s, reinsurance company Munich Re, US has been monitoring loss trends for convective storms worldwide, which includes tornadoes. The damage these storms inflict on US property has been rising steadily over the past 40 years, averaging less than US$2bn per year in the early 1980s but reaching more than US$22bn in 2016. Mark Bove, senior research meteorologist at Munich Re, US, said, An increase of atmospheric heat and moisture due to our warming climate will likely increase the number of days per year that are favorable for thunderstorms and their associated hazards, including tornadoes. The socioeconomic impact of tornadoes will continue to escalate due to people moving to regions at greater risk to severe thunderstorms, increases in the value of personal property, and suburban sprawl creating more targets for severe thunderstorms. Our Tornado Virtual Reality Experience can help people that have never experienced a tornado to better understand the urgency and practicality of building resiliency into our homes and businesses to help protect property and people. Many building codes in the USA do not require a home to withstand more than a 90mph gust of wind for three seconds the equivalent of a weak EF1 tornado with wind speeds between 86mph and 110mph. The USA experiences more tornadoes than anywhere else in the world, and a lack of resilient construction and weak or non-existent building codes in some states leaves many communities at risk of loss of property and lives when a tornado occurs. Spending a dollar on disaster-risk mitigation and preparedness saves an average of US$4 in future losses, according to the National Institute of Building Services. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) notes findings from a recent study that [show]homes built to its stronger, more resilient Fortified Home standards had a 7% higher appraisal value than similar homes built to conventional standards. More stringent building codes and enhanced high wind construction materials can help reduce the costs associated with tornadoes and other types of storms, added Bove. Often, an incremental cost in resilient construction techniques in a new home can allow a building to withstand 130mph winds much more than the current requirements of many building codes, where they exist. A resilient home can help mitigate the physical damage to property and save lives and, when combined with adequate insurance, reduce the time it takes to return to normalcy after a tornado hits. To view the Munich Re, US Tornado Virtual Reality Experience, click here.
Helen has worked for UKi Media & Events for more than a decade. She joined the company as assistant editor on Passenger Terminal World and has since progressed to become editor of five publications, covering everything from aviation, logistics and automotive to meteorology. She has a love for travel and property and has redeveloped three houses in three years. When she’s not editing magazines, she’s running around after her two boys and their partner in crime, Pete the pug.