Wildfires in California, Ransomware, the Fujiwhara effect - test your knowledge of catastrophes and insurance industry news from 2017!

Question 1:
Accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) expresses the activity of individual tropical cyclones and entire seasons—particularly the Atlantic hurricane season. Which hurricane during this year’s remarkable season had the second highest ACE score ever recorded?

1) Franklin
2) Harvey
3) Irma

Correct answer: With a score of 67.5, Irma came in second only to Hurricane Ivan in 2004 at 70.4. Irma was powerful enough all by itself to make the 2017 Atlantic season above-average in terms of ACE.

4) Maria

Question 2:
When two tropical systems come within less than 900 miles of each other, they begin an atmospheric dance whereby they spin counter-clockwise while orbiting around each other. This phenomenon is called the Fujiwhara effect. Despite being a relatively rare occurrence, there were several tropical cyclones in 2017 that were involved in this teacup ride–like movement in 2017. Which of these storms was not part of a Fujiwhara effect?

1) Hurricane Jose

Correct answer: Hurricane Jose was close to dancing the Fujiwhara with Tropical Storm Maria, but they never got close enough to meet. Typhoon Noru absorbed Tropical Storm Kulap in July 2017; Typhoon Nesat was pushed by an interaction with Tropical Storm Haitang before both struck Taiwan and southeastern China; and Hurricane Irwin interacted with Tropical Storm Hillary in the Pacific.

2) Hurricane Irwin
3) Typhoon Noru
4) Typhoon Nesat

Question 3:
The M7.1 earthquake that strongly impacted Mexico City this year occurred on the anniversary of which earthquake?

1) The 6th anniversary of the Tohoku, Japan, earthquake
2) The 28th anniversary of the Loma Prieta, California, or “World Series,” earthquake
3) The 32th anniversary of the Michoacán, Mexico, earthquake

Correct answer: The M7.1 Puebla, Mexico, earthquake occurred on September 19, 2017, exactly 32 years after the 1985 Michoacán earthquake, the most serious natural disaster in Mexico’s recorded history.

4) The 10th anniversary of the Umbria-Marche, Italy, earthquake

Question 4:
Ransomware is a type of malware that holds a computer’s files hostage by stealing and then deleting them—frequently by encrypting and then erasing the unencrypted data. The malware then proceeds to display a ransom notice demanding payment for the return of the data. Ransomware demands are typically targeted, involving large payments from single victims to recover data. Which ransomware incident this year went one step further by spreading like a worm or virus worldwide?

1) CryptoLocker
2) WannaCry

Correct answer: In May 2017 WannaCry demanded USD 300–600 per computer, infecting hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide.

3) Petya
4) Fusob

Question 5:
AIR released a new inland flood model for Japan this year to capture the risk of flooding from non-tropical systems. What percentage of flood losses is attributed to precipitation not related to typhoons?

1) 25%
2) 30%
3) 40%

Correct answer: Sixty percent of flood losses can be attributed to precipitation associated with tropical cyclones in Japan, according to claims data; the other 40% of flood losses are from non-tropical systems, a non-modeled risk until the new AIR Inland Flood Model for Japan, which captures the flood risk posed by these atmospheric systems, was released in the fall.

4) 60%

Question 6:
What changes did the National Weather Service have to make to its maps to communicate the flooding caused by Harvey?

1) Add two new colors
2) Change the upper bound of its precipitation scale
3) Neither 1 nor 2
4) Both 1 and 2

Correct answer: Both 1 and 2. The National Weather Service (NWS) precipitation scale—before Harvey’s approach—used 13 colors from light green to dark purple to illustrate precipitation from 0.1 inch to more than 15 inches. As Hurricane Harvey approached, the NWS changed what the dark purple represented from “greater than 15 inches” to “15 to 20 inches” of rain and added two more colors of lighter purple to represent “20 to 30 inches” and “greater than 30 inches.” They needed the new colors: some towns had more than 45 inches of rainfall, with a few receiving more than 50.

Question 7:
Maria weakened to a Category 4 hurricane before its Puerto Rico landfall. If Maria had made landfall on Puerto Rico as a Category 5 hurricane, it would have been only the second time in recorded history that a storm has done so. Which hurricane is the only one recorded to have made landfall on Puerto Rico as a Category 5?

1) The Great Okeechobee Hurricane in 1928

Correct answer: As the first recorded hurricane to reach what is now considered Category 5 status in the Atlantic Basin, the 1928 Great Okeechobee Hurricane is one of the 10 most intense storms documented to make landfall in the United States (landfall was in West Palm Beach, Florida) and it remains the only storm of Category 5 intensity to have made landfall in Puerto Rico.

2) Hurricane Donna in 1960
3) Hurricane Betsy in 1965
4) Hurricane Andrew in 1992

Question 8:
AIR has updated its U.S. earthquake model to include which two new sub-perils?

1) Tsunami and liquefaction
2) Liquefaction and fire following
3) Landslide and sprinkler leakage
4) Tsunami and landslide

Correct answer: The updated AIR Earthquake Model for the United States features tsunami as a new sub-peril for the West Coast and the Cascadia Subduction Zone. While the risk of tsunami mainly affects the West Coast, the risk of earthquake-triggered landslide impacts the entire country. Newly supported in the updated U.S. earthquake model is a landslide module that incorporates Digital Elevation Model (DEM), geological, and precipitation data to capture the damaging effects of earthquake-triggered landslides for the contiguous United States.

Question 9:
Which month is traditionally the worst for wildfires in California, in terms of number of homes burned down?

1) July
2) August
3) September
4) October

Correct answer: October. Five of the six most destructive wildfires in the State of California have occurred in October. The top five are, in order: Oakland Hills Fire, October 1991; Cedar Fire, October 2003; Valley Fire, September 2015; Witch Fire, October 2007; and Old Fire 2003. It remains to be seen where this October’s Northern California wildfires rank. In addition to California, the following 12 states will be covered in AIR’s new U.S. wildfire model anticipated for release in 2018: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Question 10:
January 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of which powerful European winter storm?

1) Xynthia
2) Daria
3) Kyrill

Correct answer: Winter Storm Kyrill tore across a wide swath of Europe on January 18 and 19, 2007, bringing destructive winds and rain. The storm was not only strong but unusually large, with a damaging wind footprint that stretched across 10 countries from Ireland to Germany and beyond (north to south), and from Scotland to Austria (west to east).

4) Christian

2017 Year-in-Review Quiz Results

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