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 hurricanehunter27:
Icecoast why is the weaking flag on when the t scores went way up?


I'm not sure why ADT always does it, but I see the weakening flag on all the time when the storm is clearly going through a strengthening phase. Try not to pay much attention to it. ADT usually has a high bias to, especially once they eye clears out.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


Perhaps the sources that Dr. Masters used lumped Australia and New Zealand together for disaster totals. Either way, you didn't say there were no billion-dollar floods in New Zealand. You implied that there were not floods of any kind in New Zealand.

If the sources Dr. Masters used did that I would find different sources. As I said before, there was no multi-billion dollar flooding in New Zealand.
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Considering Dr. Master's listed that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused 210 Billion in damages, and the earthquake in New Zealand added 20 Billion. The two of these events contributed to 86.7% of the damages so far this year.

He didn't say that earthquakes are due to global warming, but juxtaposing a paragraph on the extreme damage caused by natural events this year with a discussion on the studies of damage caused by weather which COULD be associated with AGW is a subtle device to lean the reader towards the position that things ARE getting worse and are a result of AGW. To be fair I thought the discussion on AGW caused damages was pretty fair and honest, a product of a scientist, not an activist.

I will be honest, I am a skeptic of AGW. I do agree that temperatures have risen, but I am not convinced it is human caused, nor am I convinced CO2 is a reason for higher temperatures. Furthermore, even IF AGW was real, the measures the AGW activists would have the US/EU take would devastate the economies of those countries for next to nothing in benefits, since no one else in the world has even hinted at participating.
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87. jpsb
I thought this blog was about topical weather?
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Quoting Torgen:


So, when you're proven wrong, you "lol" as if that invalidates it? You're really good at that "denialist" stuff. Of course, you constantly practice.

Was i proven wrong, when? I do not deny that New Zealand had flooding from Wilma and Heavy rains. I lol'ed cause this blog is about Multi-billion dollar disaster.
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Dr. Master's information suggests a number of things:

Places at high risk should be discouraged from putting more lives and wealth at risk
1. Earthquake -- SF and LA in the US should discourage increasing the population or put into place much stricter codes on where to build and what can be built.
2. Weather -- my favorite bugaboo is insuring flood plain building. Whether it is NOLA or in the midwest this is just plain silly. Continued development of coastal areas is another silly thing to do since the global warming thing, if real, is not going to stop on a dime. In tornado prone areas, buildings should be required to have shelters inside. Wild fire prone areas should have a required setback from combustibles to structures or fire proof structures. Using balloon frame houses in a forest and expecting them not to burn down is, well, silly.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

LOL. This Blog is about Multi-Billion Dollar Natural Disasters. The flooding in New Zealand wasn't Multi-Billion. Maybe a few Million.


Perhaps the sources that Dr. Masters used lumped Australia and New Zealand together for disaster totals. Either way, you didn't say there were no billion-dollar floods in New Zealand. You implied that there were not floods of any kind in New Zealand.
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Yeah Dr. Masters.. The tropics are quiet! LOL

So quiet that we may have an invest in the Western Caribbean later today :P

to add to that, the wave at 45W looks very interesting as well. It may be quiet and void of tropical depression/invests/storms, but it's not THAT quiet. There is action in the Atlantic, disturbances worth monitoring.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


See, that states 2011 is not the record for disasters.
first of all, that is not a dollar based figure like Dr. M's post is about, and second, it's JULY!!! look at that again and think about that... what do you think is likely to happen in the next 5.5 months? the bar for 2011 goes down, stays the same, or goes up?
something tells me the 5 or so more 'events' needed to top all the other years is a shade more than likely.
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We all know the models have been dropping and then developing the SE coast storm, the setup itself is complicated so thats why you have inconsistency from the models..as I said before the ingredients are there for this to develop, its just a matter of wait and see
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Quoting aburttschell:
That meant "more evaporation and higher potential for these extreme downpours", and "it can only be explained by global warming."

If this is the case...I'm all in for more global warming in Texas!
Problem is, we don't get to choose were it rains... lol... that's why it's so dry in TX right now.... all ur rain fell on Oz 6 months ago....
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Quoting AussieStorm:

LOL. This Blog is about Multi-Billion Dollar Natural Disasters. The flooding in New Zealand wasn't Multi-Billion. Maybe a few Million.


So, when you're proven wrong, you "lol" as if that invalidates it? You're really good at that "denialist" stuff. Of course, you constantly practice.
Member Since: June 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
Quoting RitaEvac:


lol, it's all turmoil out in the world, misdirection, miscommunication, when we bankrupt and everybody's stupid lil economy is gone this will be the least of our concerns

I like to see true facts not false facts.... New Zealand had flooding but not to the amounts of the like of Queensland, Victoria and Parts Of the USA. What about the China Flooding??? Not counted? What about the Columbia flooding??? Not counted??? Was Victoria's flooding included in the $7.3Bil quoted about or is that just from the Queensland. Also does it include Cyclone Yasi and the Billions of damaged cause by her????????
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Quoting capelookout:
Disasters, yes. But scientists are still debating the cause of these distasters. While some insist it is the result of man-made variables, many other credible scientists believe is has very little to nothing to do with anthropogenic effects.
Isn't that a summary of what Dr. M's blog said? ???

Quoting RitaEvac:
If you want to talk or hear about the tropics in a tropical blog, just go to Levis, this one is about global warming.
Amazing. I thought it was about damage estimates for the year. I obviously didn't read well enough.

Quoting ncstorm:


It seems that most non profit organizations want to donate only fans to the elderly and economically disadvantage but with the record heat waves we are experiencing, I would think they would need to start looking at the 100.00 air conditioners that was suggested and the electricity companies giving discounts to the elderly.
The discounts idea is a great one. Doesn't have to happen all the time; just have a special "heat-wave" discount for consumers over, say, 60? Have it kick in when temps trend like this. Apply automatically. Maybe have some ads saying u r doing it so pple can know about it. This is just deserts for old pple, to whom in my opinion respect is due simply because of their "aged heads" and because also we are "standing on their shoulders". I never did understand a community view which uses up a young person's contribution to society the lets the elderly fend for themselves.
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Icecoast why is the weaking flag on when the t scores went way up?
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Quoting TaylorSelseth:
Thanks, Doc! This year has been truly insane weather-wise, and it's only July At this rate we are going to end up with a major hurricane hitting NYC or something similarly awful. :-(

*SNARK* Though if a hurricane hit Washington DC it might improve the place. *SNARK*

Looks like Ma-On is still struggling with dry air from the ridge. The eye-wall is incomplete.

There are no credible scientists that deny that it's caused by humans.

We are emitting CO2 and CH4.

CO2 and CH4 are greenhouse gases.

Increasing the levels of greenhouse gases raises the global average temperature.

Therefore, we are raising the global average temperature.


It's that simple. Deniers are no different than Creationists, and deserve about as much respect from the Reality-Based Community.


This is wrong on so many levels. Off to levi's blog apparently!
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


I do not see development of any kind off the SE coast on the 00z ECMWF.


well the HPC is going with the 12Z run from their 731 am discussion..

WHICH SUPPORTS THE POSSIBILITY OF HEAVY RAINFALL
DEVELOPING ALONG PORTIONS OF THE SOUTHEAST COAST FROM THIS WEEKEND
INTO EARLY NEXT WEEK WITHIN AN ANOMALOUSLY MOIST ENVIRONMENT.
ENOUGH 12Z ECMWF ENSEMBLE MEMBERS SUPPORTED THIS SCENARIO TO KEEP
A WEAK LOW MOVING JUST OFFSHORE GEORGIA/THE CAROLINAS. AS THE
UPPER TROUGH LIFTS OUT...THE LOW SHOULD LIFT NORTHEAST OFFSHORE
THE COAST OF THE CAROLINAS AND MOVE OUT TO SEA.
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Quoting stillwaiting:
..RELIABLE models....


Since when is the ECMWF not a reliable model?
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Quoting Neapolitan:

You may want to go back and re-read Dr. Masters' post; he answered all or most of your points.


+100
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Quoting ncstorm:
The Atlantic is quiet
None of the reliable models predict tropical cyclone development over the next seven days.


Isn't the ECWMF, NAM, and the CMC predicting TC development off the SE coast?
..RELIABLE models....
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
Quoting AussieStorm:

LOL. This Blog is about Multi-Billion Dollar Natural Disasters. The flooding in New Zealand wasn't Multi-Billion. Maybe a few Million.


lol, it's all turmoil out in the world, misdirection, miscommunication, when we bankrupt and everybody's stupid lil economy is gone this will be the least of our concerns
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Be nice to have something like what Levi does


If I did it right you've got mail
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From crownweather:

The southern piece of a trough of low pressure is expected to cause an area of low pressure to develop just off of the coast of North and South Carolina late this weekend. This upper level trough of low pressure will lift out by Tuesday and that low pressure system will also track northeastward into the open Atlantic by then. It is possible that some sort of hybrid tropical system may develop from this low pressure system and the prospects for this system will be monitored very closely. This low pressure system will bring heavy rainfall from northeast Florida to the North Carolina coast this weekend into early next week.

excerpt from USA Today..

The pressure in a developing hybrid storm can sometimes fall at an alarming rate, reaching ten millibars (about 0.3 inches of mercury) or more per hour in extreme cases. More typically, the pressure fall is one to three millibars per hour (0.03 to 0.09 inches per hour), but a continuous fall at this rate can rapidly intensify even a meager storm into a monster in less than a day. This growth spurt is termed "explosive deepening" and usually lasts for 12 to 36 hours.

If the pressure falls steadily at one millibar or more per hour for 24 hours, the storm is called a "bomb cyclone" relating to its "explosive" intensification.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

From Munich Re:

Click for larger image:
Uh-oh


See, that states 2011 is not the record for disasters.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6592
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


I am, it is a great area, do you know where in Chesapeake you would be moving into? I would recommend more toward the James River, much more things to do.


Schools are of great concern to us. I've heard the Great Bridge area is good in that respect.

Response in WU mail would be best as to not be off topic in the blog :-)
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5449
Quoting Neapolitan:

New Zealand Flooding

More

More


LOL. This Blog is about Multi-Billion Dollar Natural Disasters. The flooding in New Zealand wasn't Multi-Billion. Maybe a few Million.
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Quoting ncstorm:


So the ECMWF is not a reliable model anymore because its still calling for TC development off the SE coast.


I do not see development of any kind off the SE coast on the 00z ECMWF.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24164
Quoting ProgressivePulse:



Considering a move to Chesapeake, VA as soon as my wife finishes her Masters in two years. Any input on the area. My apologies if your not from VA Beach, just noticed your handle.


I am, it is a great area, do you know where in Chesapeake you would be moving into? I would recommend more toward the James River, much more things to do.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6592
Quoting Neapolitan:

From above:

The Atlantic is quiet
None of the reliable models predict tropical cyclone development over the next seven days.


So the ECMWF is not a reliable model anymore because its still calling for TC development off the SE coast.
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Quoting capelookout:
Distasters, yes. But scientists are still debating the cause of these distasters. While some insist it is the result of man-made variables, many other credible scientists believe is has very little to nothing to do with anthropogenic effects.


Simple question:
If you increase heat to an equation, what does it do that?


Also, the number of "credible scientists" that believe AGW is influencing the climate far exceeds the number of those that don't.

The debate has shifted as follows:
1980s
Is there global warming, and are humans influencing it.

1990s
Definite warming going on, and are humans influencing it.

2000-2010
Extreme weather events starting to increase. Arctic melting, 2005 hurricane season, CAT 3 striking Arabian peninsula for first time on record, massive wild-fires in Russia. 2010 warmer than 1998. Many doubters now admit climate changing.

2011-beyond
Record flooding in Australia, record droughts in southern US, unprecedented tornado outbreaks in the US, etc. It's now not a question of "Are warmer global temps effecting climate/weather," but "how much and how severe for the future."

To think otherwise is foolish and whistling past the graveyard.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


If you were researching the damage from natural disasters that is caused by global warming wouldn't you have to remove the two earthquakes? If you did, would this year be higher or lower than average from purely weather events?



Considering a move to Chesapeake, VA as soon as my wife finishes her Masters in two years. Any input on the area. My apologies if your not from VA Beach, just noticed your handle.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5449
UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 14 JUL 2011 Time : 143000 UTC
Lat : 20:26:03 N Lon : 144:12:58 E


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.9 / 941.2mb/112.4kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
5.8 6.1 6.1

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 19 km

Center Temp : -11.8C Cloud Region Temp : -69.1C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION

Ocean Basin : WEST PACIFIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : PACIFIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

C/K/Z MSLP Estimate Inputs :
- Average 34 knot radii : 140km
- Environmental MSLP : 1005mb

Satellite Viewing Angle : 23.9 degrees





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Quoting AussieStorm:
New Zealand didn't have any Flooding.

New Zealand Flooding

More

More

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Uploaded by kiwigeofreak on Dec 27, 2010

Waimakariri River, 20 minutes north of Christchurch, NZ, in flood after more than 300mm of rain in its upper catchment.

The Waimakariri River is one of a number of large braided Rivers that rise in the Southern Alps and flow into the Pacific Ocean on the east side of the Southern Alps. The Canterbury Plains are the product of millenia of alluvial gravel being deposited by rivers like the Waimakariri.

In this video its running at about 1500 cubic metres per second, which is the size of flood you would expect about once a year. When I came back a few hours after this, it was running at around 2800 cubic metres per second and closer to the size expected about every 30-40 years.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128636
Quoting ncstorm:


Oh my friend..I said this last week..I'm glad someone else is seeing this as well and being vocal about it on the blog. All I ask is that we have a tropical blog that is updated every day for just tropical weather.

From above:

The Atlantic is quiet
None of the reliable models predict tropical cyclone development over the next seven days.
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Quoting Patrap:
This is all archived,,so in the futch-cha,,remember dat when the Artic is only a memory and a few Google images.


We have lotsa memory in the wu-server, if you cant handle some Quantified Basic science and the authors material.

Feel free to create your own wunder verse.













I try to stay out of the debates and just lurk because I don't think the anti-science crowd will ever admit defeat. I just wish the universe could split in two identical halves but with a choice to join the pro-active environmental universe or the alarmist scientists are stealing grant money better keep poluting half.

As it is, we will have more than twice to the work to save the planet not just form pollution but saving it while being hindered by the freeloaders.
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Northern gulf doing it's flare up with rain and storms offshore again today, wish the rain would get on land instead of over water wasting precious energy
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


If you were researching the damage from natural disasters that is caused by global warming wouldn't you have to remove the two earthquakes? If you did, would this year be higher or lower than average from purely weather events?

From Munich Re:

Click for larger image:
Uh-oh
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Dr Masters, you need to make a correction.

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.

New Zealand didn't have any Flooding *compared to the likes of Australia and USA.* Edited
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This is all archived,,so in the futch-cha,,remember dat when the Artic is only a memory and a few Google images.


We have lotsa memory in the wu-server, if you cant handle some Quantified Basic science and the authors material.

Feel free to create your own wunder verse.











Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128636
Quoting ncstorm:


Oh my friend..I said this last week..I'm glad someone else is seeing this as well and being vocal about it on the blog. All I ask is that we have a tropical blog that is updated every day for just tropical weather.


Be nice to have something like what Levi does
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Here we go again!
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Quoting P451:





It would seem the tropics are no longer Dr. M's chief concern.

His blog, that's fine, if this is where he has steered his career that's absolute great, but perhaps remove the Tropical Weather Blog declaration and convert it to Climate Change Blog.

People come here looking for Tropical Weather discussion and nine times out of ten now find themselves ambushed by an AGW debate.



Oh my friend..I said this last week..I'm glad someone else is seeing this as well and being vocal about it on the blog. All I ask is that we have a tropical blog that is updated every day for just tropical weather.
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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.