The biggest story to begin the New Year is definitely the polar vortex, a unique blast of cold arctic air that sent temperatures plunging below freezing in every state in the union. (Yes … even a portion of Hawaii reached 25 degrees). With the vortex came severe snow storms, ice storms that affected air travel, road travel as well as real estate properties.
Essentially, the weather prompted people to stay home and businesses to close. While many people in the upper Midwest are used to cold winters, the current cold snap is being viewed as a once-in-a-generation event. Also, thousands of flights were cancelled, and trucks were rendered idle due to impassable roads. Countless buildings and homes had to deal with pipes bursting and water main breaks created icy ponds in streets.
According to a DetroitNews.com report, it is estimated that the cold related calamities resulted in the economy losing $5 billion. It was viewed by economic analysts as the most significant weather related event since 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. Fortunately, the economic damage of the polar vortex pales in comparison to the damage created by Sandy (which was $65 million in property damage by itself). When viewed in context of the annual gross domestic product ($15 trillion), it is merely a blip on the radar screen, and could likely be made up (and surpassed) during other times of the year.
Nevertheless, weather related events may call into question commercial real estate contracts that may need interpretation and advice from an experienced attorney.
Source: DetroitNews.com, “Economy out $5B in cold cash after weeklong deep freeze,” Steve Karnowski, January 10, 2014