2011 the most expensive year for natural disasters in history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:42 PM GMT on July 14, 2011

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An exceptional accumulation of very severe natural catastrophes, including earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, tornadoes and flooding in the U.S., and flooding in Australia and New Zealand, make 2011 the highest-ever loss year on record, even after the first half-year, said re-insurance giant Munich Re in a press release this week. The $265 billion in economic losses accumulated this year exceeds the previous record year, 2005, which had $220 billion in damage (mostly due to $125 billion in damage from Hurricane Katrina.) Unlike 2005, this year's losses have been headlined by two huge earthquakes--the March 11 quake in Japan ($210 billion) and the February 22 quake in New Zealand ($20 billion.) But with the Northern Hemisphere's hurricane season just beginning, this year's record losses may see a significant boost from hurricanes.


Figure 1. Stunned survivors survey the destruction left by the EF-4 Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado of April. With a price tag estimated at $2 billion, this was the single most expensive tornado of all-time. The record stood only three weeks, being surpassed by the $3 billion in damage from the Joplin Missouri, tornado. The two tornado outbreaks that spawned these tornadoes rank as the globe's 3rd and 5th most destructive natural disasters so far this year. Image from an anonmous posting to Twitter.

Climate change and damage from weather-related disasters
In an interview with MSNBC, Peter Hoppe, who runs Munich Re's Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Center, said that while the damage trend for earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions is fairly stable, damage from severe weather events is on the upswing, even after factoring in increases in population and wealth. He cited natural events such as La Niña and El Niño as factors in some of the damaging weather events, but added that warming temperatures appear to be adding a layer "on top" of that natural variability. In particular, he noted that the floods this January in Australia--that nation's most expensive natural disaster of all time--occurred when ocean temperatures off the coast were at record warm levels. That meant "more evaporation and higher potential for these extreme downpours", and "it can only be explained by global warming."


Figure 2. The five most expensive natural disasters of 2011, as estimated by Munich Re.

However, the there is a lot of controversy on whether economic losses due to weather-related disasters is increasing due to climate change. A 2010 paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by Netherlands researcher Laurens Bouwer titled, "Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change?", looked at 22 disaster loss studies in various parts of the world. All of the studies showed an increase in damages from weather-related disasters in recent decades. The big question is, how much of this increase in damage was due to increases in population, and the fact people are getting wealthier, and thus have more stuff to get damaged? Fourteen of the 22 studies concluded that there were no trends in damage after correcting for increases in wealth and population, while eight of the studies did find upward trends even after such corrections. In all 22 studies, increases in wealth and population were the "most important drivers for growing disaster losses."

Bouwer's review of these 22 disaster loss studies was critiqued this year by Neville Nicholls of the School of Geography and Environmental Science of Montash University, Australia. His analysis, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, notes that Bouwer's study of damage losses did not include the impact of improvements in building codes and weather forecasting. We can expect both factors to have significantly reduced damages due to storms in recent years. Nicholls concludes, "The absence of an upward trend in normalized losses may be due to a balance between reduced vulnerability (from improved weather forecasting and building techniques) and increased frequency or intensity of weather hazards." In his reply to Nicholls' comments, Bouwer states that Nicholls "provides no support that these factors have actually contributed to a substantial reduction in losses over the period of the last decades."

Jeff Masters

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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Pop-ups :)

Not really pop-ups since there is a front in the vicinity.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
Temperature anomalies over the Gulf of Guinea (the more negative, the more conducive the SSTs and environment are for an active CV season)





Temperature difference between SSTs near Cape Verde and the Gulf of Guinea (the more positive, the more conducive the SSTs and environment are for an active CV season)





Indian Ocean Dipole Index (the more positive, the more favorable conditions are for AEW as there is more moisture and upward motion in the East Africa/West Indian region)

Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Different level of heat today, 106.2 in the shade, at least the humidity is low but working out in this for 3 hours today I lost quite a few pounds. :) Seems the High Pressure is strengthening?
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:



Poor guy, idk how it is now but up here in Va its 75 with a north breeze, b-e-a-utiful.


here it feels like the inside of a Charleston rice steamer
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Quoting presslord:


no...."HAS" as in I've never been so miserably hot in my life...



Poor guy, idk how it is now but up here in Va its 75 with a north breeze, b-e-a-utiful.
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Mark 12n/77w & 9n/45w !
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Wow, that tropical wave at 45W looks impressive. Looks nicer than the low in the Caribbean at the minute. Wouldn't be suprised to see a little yellow circle at the 2am TWO. Shear is 20+ knots in front of it though, will have a tough time. Plus I don't remember any of the models even suggesting this.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


HAS? Like if its not something terrible will occur?


no...."HAS" as in I've never been so miserably hot in my life...
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Quoting presslord:
I have just spent the last three days in Columbia, SC...and I don't care what sorta evidence Jeff Masters can produce to the contrary....it HAS to have been the hottest place on Earth....something's terribly wrong when one has to come back to Charleston to cool off...


HAS? Like if its not something terrible will occur?
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Quoting StAugustineFL:
Nice coverage for many. Unfortunately I was not one of them. :(



Me either, StA, maybe tomorrow :)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
I have just spent the last three days in Columbia, SC...and I don't care what sorta evidence Jeff Masters can produce to the contrary....it HAS to have been the hottest place on Earth....something's terribly wrong when one has to come back to Charleston to cool off...
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Quoting JupiterKen:
422. Your maths are bad...


So are yours Englishes.
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Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Nice coverage for many. Unfortunately I was not one of them. :(

Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Pop-ups :)

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Pop-ups :)

Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
422. Your maths are bad...
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Quoting washingtonian115:
The atlantic is quite but not void of anything suspicous looking at the moment.The disturbane near 45W is a little interesting although development at this time does not look likley.As for Ma-on I hope Japan can avoid it.All though shear should come to the rescue and weaken it as it nears them..As for the African season the GFS is forecasting I just can't take that seriously at this time.


You have to think of models like this...For everyday's forecast to pan out something has to happen or not happen such as a cold front dropping down etc. So you have a 50/50 chance everyday with 2 possible outcomes...So everyday that goes by your multiply by the number of outcomes. So technically in a 2 day forecast that exact setup has a 1/4 or 25 percent chance of happening. Now in 10 days which is considered long range you have a to raise 2 to the 10th power which is 1024 with one possible outcome on that table theres a 0.09 or 9 percent chance of that certain income possibly happening and thats being conserative i'm sure there are many other things in the models input that are happening my chance
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Quoting sunlinepr:
24 small quakes in our area...



That sounds like alot in such a small area
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NWS, Wilmington, NC

.LONG TERM /SUNDAY THROUGH THURSDAY/...
AS OF 3 PM THURSDAY...CONCERN THROUGH THE FIRST HALF OF THE LONG
TERM CONTINUES TO BE WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH A STALLED FRONT SOUTH
OF THE AREA AND AN ASSOCIATED TROPICAL WAVE PROGGED TO DEVELOP
ALONG IT. FOR SEVERAL RUNS NOW THE LONG RANGE MODELS HAVE BEEN
HINTING THAT A COLD FRONT WILL GET HUNG UP ACROSS SC/GA THROUGH
EARLY NEXT WEEK. ALTHOUGH CLIMO WOULD FAVOR THE FRONT NOT MAKING
IT THAT FAR SOUTH...CANNOT IGNORE THE CONTINUITY OF THE GUIDANCE.
THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE LOCATIONS NORTH OF THIS BOUNDARY GET
INTO A MUCH DRIER REGIME AS RIDGING MOVES DOWN THE EAST COAST.
PWATS THROUGH TUESDAY ACROSS THE ILM CWA HOVER AT LESS THAN 1.5
INCHES WHICH IS BELOW THE 50TH PERCENTILE FOR MOISTURE IN JULY.
THIS WOULD LEAD TO A DRY FORECAST...IF THE GUIDANCE WAS PERFECT.
HOWEVER...TROPICAL WAVE/TROUGH STILL PROGGED TO DEVELOP ALONG THE
RESIDUAL BOUNDARY AND MOVE NE OFF THE COAST MAY ADVECT MORE
MOISTURE INTO THE AREA SO WILL CONTINUE CHANCE POP ACROSS SOUTHERN
AND COASTAL ZONES...AND THERE COULD BE A VERY SHARP N/S PRECIP
GRADIENT THROUGH EARLY NEXT WEEK. ANOTHER FRONT WILL TRY TO WORK
DOWN THROUGH THE CAROLINAS BY THE TAIL END OF THE EXTENDED...BUT
RENEWED UPPER RIDGING MAY KEEP THIS DEFLECTED TO THE NORTH.
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419. JRRP

Link
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24 small quakes in our area... (2.3 to 4.3)
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CAMEX-4 region of interest with range rings centered on Jacksonville Naval Air Station (JAX NAS). The research aircraft will typically fly tropical cyclones in the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico within 800 nautical miles of the Jacksonville base of operations.



Link
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screen grab from ISS TV image of Ma-On
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413. JRRP
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412. JRRP
Quoting Hurrykane:
RGB LOOP CATL

Link

UKM is showing strong wave near antilles
72hour
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Quoting help4u:
Everyone worried about life and mass die-off's,how about 40 million abortions in last 40 years in the United States.A lot of people on this blog want more to save the planet.


Nice point! If we destroy most of the planet, abortions will go down. Never thought of it that way before.
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Quoting Grothar:


Yes, they dropped it. I am still looking to see if any other models have picked it up. These waves usually fizzle this time of year though.
The sst are still cool out twards that way as well.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Wasn't it posted on saturday that by 84 hours the GFS forecast a system to form off the african coast?.Well the GFS has since dropped it.But if the GFS was consistant with it I think everyone would've been paying attention to the wave off of africa.....


Yes, they dropped it. I am still looking to see if any other models have picked it up. These waves usually fizzle this time of year though.
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Quoting help4u:
Everyone worried about life and mass die-off's,how about 40 million abortions in last 40 years in the United States.A lot of people on this blog want more to save the planet.

Those abortions are not necessarily population control, but rather lifestyle and choice issues.
If they were not legal then we night have population control issues.
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Quoting BDAwx:

Thank you


Anytime,,I was browsing for a entry and came cross that.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
Quoting Grothar:
Wasn't it posted on saturday that by 84 hours the GFS forecast a system to form off the african coast?.Well the GFS has since dropped it.But if the GFS was consistant with it I think everyone would've been paying attention to the wave off of africa.....
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402. BDAwx
Quoting Patrap:


Cross section of the core of a mature hurricane.

Cross section of the core of a mature hurricane. The axisymmetric primary swirling motion (curved black arrows) of the vortex is sustained by a radial and vertical secondary circulation (red arrows) that consists of frictional inflow that loses angular momentum to the sea as it gains moist enthalpy and a convective updraft around the eye that turns the latent heat into sensible heat to provide the buoyancy needed to loft air from the surface to tropopause level. The updraft entrains midlevel air promoting mass and angular momentum convergence (blue arrow). It is this inflow that supplies the excess angular momentum needed to spin up the vortex. Precipitation driven convective updrafts (vertical black arrow) form as hydrometeors fall from the outward sloping updraft. Condensation in the anvil causes a mesoscale updraft above the 0�C isotherm and precipitation loading by snow falling from the overhanging anvil causes a mesoscale downdraft below 0�C isotherm (yellow arrows). The melting level itself is marked by the radar brightband (green) and maximum mass convergence. Inside the eye, thermally driven descent warms and dries the tropospheric column, leading to substantial pressure fall there.

Thank you
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
Vertical cross section of the hurricane circulation




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
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Cross section of the core of a mature hurricane.

Cross section of the core of a mature hurricane. The axisymmetric primary swirling motion (curved black arrows) of the vortex is sustained by a radial and vertical secondary circulation (red arrows) that consists of frictional inflow that loses angular momentum to the sea as it gains moist enthalpy and a convective updraft around the eye that turns the latent heat into sensible heat to provide the buoyancy needed to loft air from the surface to tropopause level. The updraft entrains midlevel air promoting mass and angular momentum convergence (blue arrow). It is this inflow that supplies the excess angular momentum needed to spin up the vortex. Precipitation driven convective updrafts (vertical black arrow) form as hydrometeors fall from the outward sloping updraft. Condensation in the anvil causes a mesoscale updraft above the 0C isotherm and precipitation loading by snow falling from the overhanging anvil causes a mesoscale downdraft below 0C isotherm (yellow arrows). The melting level itself is marked by the radar brightband (green) and maximum mass convergence. Inside the eye, thermally driven descent warms and dries the tropospheric column, leading to substantial pressure fall there.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
397. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Disturbance Summary
TROPICAL DEPRESSION XX
3:00 AM JST July 15 2011
=================================

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression (1004 hPa) located at 14.0N 132.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts of 40 knots. The depression is reported as almost stationary
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396. BDAwx
Quoting Patrap:


wait! why does the air sink in the eye?
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The atlantic is quite but not void of anything suspicous looking at the moment.The disturbane near 45W is a little interesting although development at this time does not look likley.As for Ma-on I hope Japan can avoid it.All though shear should come to the rescue and weaken it as it nears them..As for the African season the GFS is forecasting I just can't take that seriously at this time.
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Quoting aspectre:
All the bars in the MunichRE stockholder report are comparing the first half of 2011 to other full years.
I'm fairly certain that the graph used by Dr.Masters is pulled from the MunichRE stockholder report


No on the one Neo linked it clearly says at the top January-June. Not full years, all half years.
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
All the bars in the MunichRE stockholder report are comparing the first half of 2011 to other full years.
I'm fairly certain that the graph used by Dr.Masters is pulled from the MunichRE stockholder report
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Gulf Of Mexico - Rainbow Loop

Check da box marked, 'fronts"
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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