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 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: 5045
Quoting ProgressivePulse:



No, my Aunt forwarded me that video, seriously, lol. I was rather skeptical until I read all the valid predictions they have made. I still think it's BS but, it has me wondering. They actually do work for the Pentagon.

We've been getting good rains here in Jupiter, not so much this week however. Low level flow seems to push the decaying storms this way nightly, sometimes productive. Seems chances for everyone may be increasing this weekend. Doing yard work for the Mother In-Law this weekend in Wellington. Not liking the 110 heat indexes forecast. How about yourself?


I just knew you were going to write that. LOL Hey, we are going to get the sames heat indices as you. Ours are going to 115 at some points. Not liking it at all.
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Quoting Grothar:


I was in Miami when David struck. We thought it was going to hit directly into Miami as a Cat 2 or even 3. As close as it came, we had winds hardly higher than strong Tropical Storm force along the coast. If it had hit directly into the Dade-Broward area, the damage would have been considerable. When it did come ashore in a much less densely populated area, it still did some damage. We hardly had a significant storm surge along the coast.


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

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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Don't make fun of the Psychic Twins and Florida landfall, and exact intensity, predictions........We have lots of similar psychic folks on this blog too...........


And a few psycho ones too. ;)
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Unfortunately High Pressure continues to Dominate most of Texas weather. NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
658 AM CDT FRI JUL 15 2011

.AVIATION...
INTENSE UPPER RIDGE WILL CONTINUE. WEAK MID LEVEL DISTURBANCE WILL
PUSH INTO EASTERN PORTIONS OF SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS WITH DIURNALLY
DRIVEN ISOLATED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS MAINLY EAST OF THE I-35
CORRIDOR. I-35 CORRIDOR TERMINALS SCT TO BKN MVFR CIGS AROUND 2
THSD AGL BECOMING VFR BY LATE MORNING. ISOLATED SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS MID TO LATE AFTERNOON THROUGH EARLY EVENING EAST OF
KAUS WILL LOCALLY LOWER CONDITIONS. SOUTH TO SOUTHEAST WINDS 10 TO
15 KTS. KDRT TERMINAL VFR. SOUTHEAST WINDS 5 TO 15 KTS WITH GUSTS
OVER 20 KTS LATE MORNING THROUGH EARLY EVENING.

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Quoting Levi32:


Remember Hurricane David in 1979 scrapped the entire east Florida coast and up into the SE US. That was a worse storm than if it had simply crossed Florida. Here, the models showed Ma-on being a tropical storm by the time it got to Tokyo. If it scrapes the coast, it could still be a formidable typhoon near that area. I'm not saying it wouldn't weaken. Obviously it would, steadily too, but not as much as if the eye were fully over land. Japan is a thin island. It won't take much for the entire band of maximum wind to move over the entire country even if the center is just at the coastline. It would likely be worse for them. Direct hits/crossings are not always the worst.


I was in Miami when David struck. We thought it was going to hit directly into Miami as a Cat 2 or even 3. As close as it came, we had winds hardly higher than strong Tropical Storm force along the coast. If it had hit directly into the Dade-Broward area, the damage would have been considerable. When it did come ashore in a much less densely populated area, it still did some damage. We hardly had a significant storm surge along the coast.
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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.


Yeah, I watched the video when it was posted before..we can only wait to see if it comes true..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14629
Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Hey everyone!
I'm back from my vacation to the Rockies.
Miss Colorado, :( 70 to 80 degrees all week, and when we got back to TX, 105...
Alright so get me up to date on the tropics, starting from last Friday to present.


Just got back from 2 weeks there also. Was a weather heaven. :) Crossed the Continental Divide in a Jeep Wrangler - no doors, no windows, no top - was AWESOME.
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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.


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


You watch "The View"? Had to watch it twice. I wasn't listening the first time. How you doing PI? Any rain by you yet?



No, my Aunt forwarded me that video, seriously, lol. I was rather skeptical until I read all the valid predictions they have made. I still think it's BS but, it has me wondering. They actually do work for the Pentagon.

We've been getting good rains here in Jupiter, not so much this week however. Low level flow seems to push the decaying storms this way nightly, sometimes productive. Seems chances for everyone may be increasing this weekend. Doing yard work for the Mother In-Law this weekend in Wellington. Not liking the 110 heat indexes forecast. How about yourself?
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5045
Quoting Levi32:


Not gonna be a Cat 4 once it starts moving northeast, but will still be a bad storm.


That's what I wrote. LOL
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Don't make fun of the Psychic Twins and Florida landfall, and exact intensity, predictions........We have lots of similar psychic folks on this blog too...........
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8850
Quoting Grothar:


Yes, either way, they are in for bad weather and some storm surge. I noticed earlier yesterday, that when Ma-on begins the poleward turn around 27, it should encounter a feature that will hopefully turn it NE then E. I also knew it would be a strong Cat 4. As it hits the cooler waters, it should begin a quick reduction, but the surge will still be powerful.


Not gonna be a Cat 4 once it starts moving northeast, but will still be a bad storm.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

A direct hit on Japan from this thing would always be the worse case scenario, Levi. The massive surge from this thing accompanied by the winds of a very large wind field due to it's massive size would affect a great number of folks as it is, including possibly the Greater Tokyo Region, which is 12 million people.

Skirting the coast would still rapidly weaken it, even if the center remains with 50 miles of shore. The TCHP is minimal and interaction with the rugged inland terrain would destroy into inner-workings. Not too mention, much of the area adjacent to the coast and within the evacuation area (dead zone) of Fukushima have abandoned the area.

Obviously as you mentioned, a best case scenario would to be to keep this thing far away from the inland, which it could very well still do. We'll keep our fingers crossed.


Remember Hurricane David in 1979 scrapped the entire east Florida coast and up into the SE US. That was a worse storm than if it had simply crossed Florida. Here, the models showed Ma-on being a tropical storm by the time it got to Tokyo. If it scrapes the coast, it could still be a formidable typhoon near that area. I'm not saying it wouldn't weaken. Obviously it would, steadily too, but not as much as if the eye were fully over land. Japan is a thin island. It won't take much for the entire band of maximum wind to move over the entire country even if the center is just at the coastline. It would likely be worse for them. Direct hits/crossings are not always the worst.
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Good morning everyone. It is another beautiful day in the Florida Keys. Typical heat and humidity. I love it! Speaking of Bigfoot (you mentioned it Bob) I have a couple of them in my family. My brother is 6'3 and wears a size 13. My niece is 6'5" and wears a size 15(poor thing) and my nephew (son of my brother) is already in a size 15 at 6"4" and still growing. So there is such a thing as Bigfoot!LOL
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
Quoting Patrap:


Dis batch looks like a good soaker


Yes sir, it does. It looks like that convection is moving onshore as it moves west. I like that!
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
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.


If one was forced to watch this long enough, it should be considered a form of torture.
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
Any fresh microwave pass?
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Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


That is closer to my neck of the woods, Pat. I did get some rain yesterday evening and they were good sized rain drops. The only problem was they were really spaced out. When the 20 minutes of rain finished, I still had dry splotches on my driveway. Not even the lizard got a good drink out of that one. Hoping for better today.


Dis batch looks like a good soaker
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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.


You watch "The View"? Had to watch it twice. I wasn't listening the first time. How you doing PI? Any rain by you yet?
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Quoting Patrap:


That is closer to my neck of the woods, Pat. I did get some rain yesterday evening and they were good sized rain drops. The only problem was they were really spaced out. When the 20 minutes of rain finished, I still had dry splotches on my driveway. Not even the lizard got a good drink out of that one. Hoping for better today.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4737
Whats going on south of the TX/LA border right on the coastline? I see circulation within the radar. Anyone else seeing this?
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Quoting ncstorm:
from crownweather:

The latest European model seasonal forecast for August, September and October continues to forecast a large area of below average barometric pressures over the main development region of the Atlantic season. I personally believe that once the first week of August rolls around that activity will pick up very quickly and go gangbusters through September and October. I am still thinking 15 named storms, 9 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 4 of those hurricanes becoming major hurricanes. It also continues to look like that the highest potential for an impact this year will be across central and southern Florida, the coasts of South and North Carolina and the northern Gulf coast from the western Florida panhandle to the central Louisiana coast. Get ready now because the meat of the Hurricane Season is quickly approaching. Do not wait until the last minute.



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.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5045
Quoting Levi32:


The models are trending towards a coast-hugger, but that would only be worse for the majority of those affected, as it means the storm would remain stronger than if the center was fully inland, causing a major typhoon to scrape the entire coast of southeast Japan. Hopefully at the last minute it will veer off and miss.


Yes, either way, they are in for bad weather and some storm surge. I noticed earlier yesterday, that when Ma-on begins the poleward turn around 27, it should encounter a feature that will hopefully turn it NE then E. I also knew it would be a strong Cat 4. As it hits the cooler waters, it should begin a quick reduction, but the surge will still be powerful.
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Quoting Grothar:
Looks like Ma-on might miss a direct hit on Japan, but will come closer to Tokyo perhaps. With that ridging to the North, as I said last night, Ma-on should be a CAT 4 and very close to Cat 5 and start moving to the NE and East, hopefully missing a direct hit on Japan. As we know anything could happen with these storms.




The models are trending towards a coast-hugger, but that would only be worse for the majority of those affected, as it means the storm would remain stronger than if the center was fully inland, causing a major typhoon to scrape the entire coast of southeast Japan. Hopefully at the last minute it will veer off and miss.
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Looks like it says CAT 4 on the CIMSS.

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761. Jax82
Quoting Grothar:
Looks like Ma-on might miss a direct hit on Japan, but will come closer to Tokyo perhaps. With that ridging to the North, as I said last night, Ma-on should be a CAT 4 and very close to Cat 5 and start moving to the NE and East, hopefully missing a direct hit on Japan. As we know anything could happen with these storms.




Thats an interesting figure there, the entire country of Japan is in the 'cone'. They need a break from natural disasters, it appears if they dont get a direct hit, the entire southern coast may get a glancing blow.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Hey everyone!
I'm back from my vacation to the Rockies.
Miss Colorado, :( 70 to 80 degrees all week, and when we got back to TX, 105...
Alright so get me up to date on the tropics, starting from last Friday to present.


Colorado is an awesome state. Was fortunate enough to live in the mountains for a year and got to snowboard a bunch! I'm moving to Denver in a few weeks to start school. Where did you visit may i ask?

Will ma-on be a true monster by the time the sun rises in the pacific?
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
Looks like Ma-on might miss a direct hit on Japan, but will come closer to Tokyo perhaps. With that ridging to the North, as I said last night, Ma-on should be a CAT 4 and very close to Cat 5 and start moving to the NE and East, hopefully missing a direct hit on Japan. As we know anything could happen with these storms.


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maybe our future"carolina"low seed over/around/near montgomery,AL????
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey everyone!
I'm back from my vacation to the Rockies.
Miss Colorado, :( 70 to 80 degrees all week, and when we got back to TX, 105...
Alright so get me up to date on the tropics, starting from last Friday to present.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good morning.

Blog update:

Tropical Tidbit for Friday, July 15th, with Video
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from crownweather:

The latest European model seasonal forecast for August, September and October continues to forecast a large area of below average barometric pressures over the main development region of the Atlantic season. I personally believe that once the first week of August rolls around that activity will pick up very quickly and go gangbusters through September and October. I am still thinking 15 named storms, 9 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 4 of those hurricanes becoming major hurricanes. It also continues to look like that the highest potential for an impact this year will be across central and southern Florida, the coasts of South and North Carolina and the northern Gulf coast from the western Florida panhandle to the central Louisiana coast. Get ready now because the meat of the Hurricane Season is quickly approaching. Do not wait until the last minute.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14629
Ma-on IR

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Quoting BDAwx:
I have to say that Ma-On is the least organized category 4 storm I've ever seen. :|

And confusing, since: eye appear, eye collapse , eye appear, eye collapse, eye appear, eye collapse, and so on until death
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Quoting hydrus:
Seems like that happens almost every season now.


and we should be grateful! I'm certain that the people living where those storms hit are.
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Winds increasing offshore of SC to the 20-25 kt range, but no pressure drop yet.



Things are starting to look interesting off GA and the "Press-olinas".

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748. BDAwx
I have to say that Ma-On is the least organized category 4 storm I've ever seen. :|
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Quoting TaylorSelseth:


If it weren't for that ridge messing up Ma-On's north side it would be as big as Tip, and Tip was the biggest TC ever. What a monster storm.

The WPAC does have a propensity for huge storms though, the average Atlantic hurricane is about half the size of the average typhoon.

And remember, A huge Cat5 (like Tip) has much more energy than a tiny Cat5 (like Camile).

But remember:Ma-on's Cat4 stage has only begun.
Also remember: A big cat 3 has stronger surge than a small Cat 5, read the article in Hurricane Resources > Storm Surge "A detailed view of the storm surge:Comparing Katrina to Camille"

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The Gulf is a ticking time bomb... we need several weak systems to take punch out of that. The Gulf is every bit as hot as it was in 05.



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Quoting P451:
MA-ON / TIP size comparison.


MA-ON and TIP in their proper locations.




MA-ON and TIP superimposed.





If it weren't for that ridge messing up Ma-On's north side it would be as big as Tip, and Tip was the biggest TC ever. What a monster storm.

The WPAC does have a propensity for huge storms though, the average Atlantic hurricane is about half the size of the average typhoon.

And remember, A huge Cat5 (like Tip) has much more energy than a tiny Cat5 (like Camile).
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 324
The Atlantic side is quiet for now but those areas of disturbed weather over Panama and on the Pacific side south of the Yucatan have plenty of vort and headed towards the E-Pac....I don't follow E-pac models but if we get another E-pac system from any of these areas over the next week, things might remain quiet on the Atlantic side for a little while.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8850
Quoting jasonweatherman2011:
Tropical Depression Tokage will die out soon!!


Roasted Tokage with Dissipation Sauce
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odd looking system out there east of windwards does not seem to be moving much if it moves wnw it should move into warmer waters favorable area for the end of july
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4370

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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.