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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841. beell
Quoting aquak9:
beell- I'm dumb as a bag of rocks- can you tell me what this means for my area?


I don't think you will see a lot of rain from this, doggie. And I will easily be able to explain why if you do...I was wrong.
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Quoting jasonweatherman2011:
Tropical Depression Tokage will die out soon!!
Finally! People will be relieved soon.
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Quoting fireflymom:
A great deal of cold water coming down the East Coast of the USA.



It looks like everyone in Maine flushed their toilet at once... O.O
Member Since: June 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
The Atlantic gets a nice Bueller right bout now.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24484
Quoting ProgressivePulse:



No I didn't but, I quickly realized when I had to rehang the plywood on my Uncles two story house, lol. I had just moved there in 02, Frances was my first. I hated that storm....


I hate them all.
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Quoting islander101010:
i live in the center of e cen fl. 60mph winds is not even hurricane strength let alone major peace


Do you live in or near Port St Lucy? If not you probably didn't experience the highest winds. It sounds like you were just far away from the landfall location. It doesn't have to hit you to be considered east central Florida..
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beell- I'm dumb as a bag of rocks- can you tell me what this means for my area?
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Quoting fireflymom:
A great deal of cold water coming down the East Coast of the USA.



haha I see... basically is it moisture in the air?
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Strong high pressure that will increase heat and drought.
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
Good Morning from Soooooo Cali, it just turned morning, things quiet in tropics now, hope everyone is well prepared just in case there is the need to be
YOU are the devil! LMAO!
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I'll mention it again,our carolina low seed is taking shape over/around montgomery,AL,its becoming apparent on vis loops now,not much convection but that should chnage as the area drifts sse....
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
Quoting beell:
Never gave too much chance for tropical development off the SE coast but model development has been somewhat persistent. Since the frontal boundary has sagged anomalously far to the south for this time of year, any development will be shifted south as well. S of Jacksonville as a guess. It appears that this modeled feature will remain closely tied to the boundary.

A building low level ridge N of the boundary will keep this area in a fairly stable NE flow regime and will also provide dry air subsidence associated with the very strong upper ridge centered over the middle of the country. May just end up with a trough across FL from NE to SW.

Moisture for meaningful development affecting land dwellers may be lacking.

GFS Forecast Soundings @ 72 hrs (00Z Monday) for St Simmons Island, GA and Jacksonville, FL showing some dry air in the mid/lower levels.

click to open in new window





000
FXUS62 KMFL 151415
AFDMFL

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL


THE SHORT RANGE
MODELS ARE ALSO SHOWING THAT A WEAK LOW COULD DEVELOP ALONG THE
TROUGH OF LOW PRESSURE ON SATURDAY AND DRIFT WEST INTO CENTRAL
FLORIDA ON SUNDAY. IF THIS HAPPENS...THEN THE SURFACE WINDS WILL
BECOME MORE SOUTHWEST OVER THE CWA FOCUSING THE CONVECTION OVER
THE EASTERN AREAS OF THE CWA. SO AT THIS TIME WILL INCREASE THE
POPS A LITTLE BIT BUT STILL REMAIN BELOW THE GUIDANCE POPS
ESPECIALLY FOR THE EAST COAST AREAS UNTIL THERE IS A PRECEDENT IN
THE MODELS SHOWING THE LOW DEVELOPING OVER THE WEEKEND.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452
Quoting Grothar:


Did you believe it when they said another hurricane was hitting the same spot 3 weeks apart?



No I didn't but, I quickly realized when I had to rehang the plywood on my Uncles two story house, lol. I had just moved there in 02, Frances was my first. I hated that storm....
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452
Quoting islander101010:
i live in the center of e cen fl. 60mph winds is not even hurricane strength let alone major



That's quite a distance from the landfall location if your talking up by Cocoa.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452
A great deal of cold water coming down the East Coast of the USA.
Quoting RCThunder:


Was curious what this graphic shows? Thanks!!!


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Quoting ProgressivePulse:







Did you believe it when they said another hurricane was hitting the same spot 3 weeks apart?
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Quoting hydrus:
Especially with slow moving storms that drop vast amounts of rain.

Yup. The SSHS totally sucks we need a rainfall scale
Who's with me?
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I haven't been reading the blog lately, so don't know if this has been discussed, but is the wave out in the Atlantic, about two thirds of the way across, got any potential for development?

It's pretty far south, but not too far south, and looks to me as if it might be starting to get a little bit of rotation to it.


Link
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Quoting hydrus:
Things are beginning to moisten up slowly but surely again over the entire basin...Nice spin in the S.W.Caribbean too...


Was curious what this graphic shows? Thanks!!!

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821. beell
Never gave too much chance for tropical development off the SE coast but model development has been somewhat persistent. Since the frontal boundary has sagged anomalously far to the south for this time of year, any development will be shifted south as well. S of Jacksonville as a guess. It appears that this modeled feature will remain closely tied to the boundary.

A building low level ridge N of the boundary will keep this area in a fairly stable NE flow regime and will also provide dry air subsidence associated with the very strong upper ridge centered over the middle of the country. May just end up with a trough across FL from NE to SW.

Moisture for meaningful development affecting land dwellers may be lacking.

GFS Forecast Soundings @ 72 hrs (00Z Monday) for St Simmons Island, GA and Jacksonville, FL showing some dry air in the mid/lower levels.

click to open in new window


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Quoting ProgressivePulse:


I just did.

If your being specific to your exact location you'll have to elaborate. Jeanne made landfall in East Central FL as a CAT 3, period.
i live in the center of e cen fl. 60mph winds is not even hurricane strength let alone major peace
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Quoting Vincent4989:
The saffir simpson scale and fujita scale sucks no matter when the object is weak it can cause lots and lots of damage and fatalities like: Bhola Cyclone - Cat 3 but 240,000-500,000 fatalities
Ondoy: tropical storm but est. 200 fatalities and flooding
There should be a rainfall scale which is similar to SS scale for us to prepare for floods.
Especially with slow moving storms that drop vast amounts of rain.
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Things are beginning to moisten up slowly but surely again over the entire basin...Nice spin in the S.W.Caribbean too...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The saffir simpson scale and fujita scale sucks no matter when the object is weak it can cause lots and lots of damage and fatalities like: Bhola Cyclone - Cat 3 but 240,000-500,000 fatalities
Ondoy: tropical storm but est. 200 fatalities and flooding
There should be a rainfall scale which is similar to SS scale for us to prepare for floods.
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Quoting islander101010:
you wont find any


I just did.

If your being specific to your exact location you'll have to elaborate. Jeanne made landfall in East Central FL as a CAT 3, period.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452
for those on console or in the ditch,,and those on ch 212,some Humor in the morning pkg.

STS-135 Execute Packages,› Flight Day 7 (694 Kb PDF)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting DestinJeff:
Brooks resigns over UK phone-hacking scandal...


... and will devote more time to professional snowboarding



... and, we are getting some good rains finally here in NW FL.


Glad to see jeff and dewey show today..need some humor on here
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you wont find any this was pointed out to me 20yrs ago by a nasa exec. guy
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


That all goes into the what is considered south, central, and north florida debate.





Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452
Quoting Patrap:
The Saffir-Simpson Scale is a really bad scale as far as Impact, thus the new Products that began a few years ago when a Major approaches..

Not many Cat-3's push in a 30 ft storm surge as K did.

Overall Storm Size matters greatly. One could drive thru Camille's Impact Zone in 35 minutes,, Katrina's took 3 Hours from Mobile Bay to Houma,La


I like the Integrated Kinetic Energy scale..it better
descibes the damage potential..of course most laymen will continue to focus on Saffir-Simpson values
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:


I beg to differ.



That all goes into the what is considered south, central, and north florida debate.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6670
Quoting ProgressivePulse:


I beg to differ.

did not even get 60mph winds wrong heard it was real bad down in jupiter 2 and half hr drive at 70mph
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Quoting islander101010:
problem with the prediciton is east central fl has been hit by a bunch hurricanes but never a landfalling major hurricane


I beg to differ.

Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452
tokyo is actually not right on the coast it would be very hard if not impossible for part of the eyewall to go over tokyo without it making landfall in japan,look at a map....
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
758 Grothar "Looks like Ma-on might miss a direct hit on Japan, but will come closer to Tokyo perhaps."

Looks like the center of the prediction cone has Ma-on making landfall on the HamaokaNuclearPowerPlant, 116miles(~186kilometres)SouthWest of centralTokyo

Hamaoka shown as the left end of the red connection-bar, centralTokyo as the right end
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:



The Psychic Twins back up his landfall projection of CFL & SFL and the East Coast. They are calling for a Cat4-5 to hit FL this fall as stated on "The View" about halfway into the interview.
problem with the prediciton is east central fl has been hit by a bunch hurricanes but never a landfalling major hurricane try to prove me wrong
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NO NEW BLOG!
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Quoting PcolaDan:


And a few psycho ones too. ;)
speaking of pychos when my daughter lost her job in miami bch i was happy that she decided to move north it wont be pretty
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The Atlantic is quiet
None of the reliable models predict tropical cyclone development over the next seven days.

Jeff Masters
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
No new blog?
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Quoting caneswatch:


LOL. But in family matters, someone on the dad's side went to a psychic, and it turned out the psychic nailed everything correctly.

Not saying these gals will be right, but everything out in the Atlantic is setting up that way.



That is why it has me wondering. I am still in the denial phase of the high setup, I refuse to mention it, lol.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452
NOAA Home Page - Hurricane Katrina Flooding and Spill Maps

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting ncstorm:


they said a cat 4 or 5 but nothing like katrina..wouldnt a cat 4 or 5 be worse than katrina?



They we're speaking in terms of overall storm damage (Flooding Ect..). Nothing will ever compare to Katrina, IMO.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452
Quoting Grothar:


Actually, even though I believe it remained a Cat 2. Most of the coast didn't reach winds much higher than 70 mph. Very little storm surge. Still 6 people died along the coast. I think the whole damage in property was around 200 - 300 million. Had it made a direct hit on Miami, the death toll and damage would have been considerably worse. I am sure there are people on here that were also here at the time. There were hundreds of thousands evacuated down here. The storm turned practically at the last minute. I don't think our counties to the North of us were prepared as we.


Well, I'm sure a direct landfall on the most densely-populated area would have been worse, yes. However, that is not always the case. I don't know much about Japan, but if we consider Tokyo to be one of the most densely-populated areas (the whole country is very populated though), then it would be worse to have a typhoon scrape the coast and bring the northern eyewall over the Tokyo area, than if the storm had made landfall back in southern Japan and have the eyewall dissipate before ever reaching Tokyo.

It's all about geography and what kind of a storm track will do the most damage. It is not always a direct crossing of an island. A storm running the length of an island like Japan right along the coast bringing the northern eyewall over the entire length of it would probably be worse for a larger number of people. I can't prove that as I am not a modeler of hurricane damages, but that's just how I think that scenario would turn out. Hopefully Japan can somehow avoid both of those options here.

Off to work. Later all.
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The Saffir-Simpson Scale is a really bad scale as far as Impact, thus the new Products that began a few years ago when a Major approaches..

Not many Cat-3's push in a 30 ft storm surge as K did.

Overall Storm Size matters greatly. One could drive thru Camille's Impact Zone in 35 minutes,, Katrina's took 3 Hours from Mobile Bay to Houma,La
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting ProgressivePulse:



If it indeed does happen, they will be my new best friend, lol. Not holding my breath but, may put a little extra away for travel expenses ;-)


LOL. But in family matters, someone on the dad's side went to a psychic, and it turned out the psychic nailed everything correctly.

Not saying these gals will be right, but everything out in the Atlantic is setting up that way.
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Quoting Levi32:


Maybe not for you, but what about a little farther up the coast?



Actually, even though I believe it remained a Cat 2. Most of the coast didn't reach winds much higher than 70 mph. Very little storm surge. Still 6 people died along the coast. I think the whole damage in property was around 200 - 300 million. Had it made a direct hit on Miami, the death toll and damage would have been considerably worse. I am sure there are people on here that were also here at the time. There were hundreds of thousands evacuated down here. The storm turned practically at the last minute. I don't think our counties to the North of us were prepared as we.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:



If it indeed does happen, they will be my new best friend, lol. Not holding my breath but, may put a little extra away for travel expenses ;-)


they said a cat 4 or 5 but nothing like katrina..wouldnt a cat 4 or 5 be worse than katrina?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16041
Texas temps already in low to mid 90s at 9:30 am, not a good sign. Happy Friday
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Quoting caneswatch:


I looked at their track record........at that's scary LOL



If it indeed does happen, they will be my new best friend, lol. Not holding my breath but, may put a little extra away for travel expenses ;-)
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5452

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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.