9 Billion-Dollar Disasters So Far This Year

Monday, August 22, 2011
North Carolina Tornado Damage, April 2011 (AP Photo)
This year is turning into the most costly on record in terms of weather-related disasters.
A new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says 2011 so far has had nine disasters costing $1 billion or more. That total already matches the record number set in 2008, with more than four months remaining in this year.
The total damage done by all storms, tornadoes, flooding and heat waves to date in 2011 adds up to about $35 billion. These nine events have also caused 589 deaths.
And with Hurricane Irene possibly taking aim at Florida, the United States is only now seeing the beginning of the hurricane season.
The nine billion-dollar weather disasters this year were:
1. Central/East Groundhog Day blizzard (Jan. 29-Feb. 3): 36 killed; losses $2 billion plus.
2. Midwest/Southeast tornadoes (April 4-5): Nine dead; losses $2 billion plus.
3. Southeast/Midwest tornadoes (April 8-11): Losses $2 billion.
4. Midwest/Southeast tornadoes (April 14-16): 38 killed; losses $2 billion plus.
5. Southeast/Ohio Valley/Midwest tornadoes (April 25-30): 327 killed; losses $9 billion.
6. Midwest/Southeast tornadoes (May 22-27): 177 deaths; losses $7 billion.
7. Southern Plains/Southwest drought, heat waves (spring-summer), wildfires: Losses $5 billion plus.
8. Mississippi River flooding (spring-summer): Two killed; losses $2 billion to $4 billion.
9. Upper Midwest flooding (summer): Losses $2 billion.
Although some have questioned whether climate change has contributed to the increase in major weather-related disasters, the NOAA attributed part of the problem to the fact that more and more Americans are living in weather-vulnerable areas.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Billion Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters (NOAA Satellite and Information Service)
Billion Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters, 1980 – mid-August 2011 (by Neal Lott, Tom Ross, Adam Smith, Tamara Houston, Karsten Shein and Jake Crouch, National Climatic Data Center) (pdf)


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