The 2014-15 winter season has already made its presence felt in much of the United States. The Eastern United States has recently been faced with temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below normal, while significant lake-effect snow has fallen in areas near the Great Lakes. Most notably, a week-long snow event dumped up to seven feet of snow in areas near Buffalo, New York.
This is merely the beginning of what appears to be another active winter season. Portions of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are expected to see significant cold snaps over the course of the winter, although the cold is not expected to be as persistent as last year. Above-normal snow accumulations are also expected in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, particularly west of the I-95 corridor. Areas east in the I-95 corridor may frequently see a wintry mix of precipitation.
Perhaps the greatest concern may be for the Southeastern United States, in an area from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf Coast. This area is expected to see above-normal precipitation throughout the winter, creating the risk of significant flooding and ice storms. Furthermore, Florida may face the risk of tornadoes during this winter season. The same weather pattern may also bring above-normal precipitation to the Southern Plains and interior Southwest, including the potential for above-normal snow in portions of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
On the other hand, much of the Midwest is expected to enjoy milder temperatures and below-normal precipitation. As has been typical in recent years, much of the Western United States may have warm and dry conditions over the winter, leading to continued drought conditions in states such as California.
In order to prepare for the upcoming winter season, insurers should make plans to ensure that sufficient personnel are available to handle claims in regions expected to be hard-hit. Insurers should also take other steps necessary to process a potential influx of claims in a timely manner, in accordance with state statutes and regulations. By taking steps to prepare now, insurers may prevent unwelcome surprises over the course of an active winter.