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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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
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Not likely that it clears though.


Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
Quoting stormpetrol:
Though void of convection the wave near 9n/45w has a very good rotation this morning, dry air is the inhibiting factor with this one imo.


Yes, it is. Dry air not as bad as yesterday however. If it can survive clear SA, it may be a player down the line in the Caribb.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
Though void of convection the wave near 9n/45w has a very good rotation this morning, dry air is the inhibiting factor with this one imo.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7932
So when is Ma-on's lunch finished? (As in tokage fully devoured)
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The Atlantic is quiet SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Hope you have a good one. See you next Monday.
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24hr Precip (WRF)


Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
Quoting jasonweatherman2011:
we had two more name storms if the storms did not hit land so fast!!
Seems like that happens almost every season now.
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Looks as if Ma-on is finally getting a bit better organized with his north quadrant. He's still have issues to a degree but looks as if the dry air intrusion he had is lessening a bit.
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..Link Decent vorticity in the S.W.Caribbean..It shows up well on the loop and zoom.
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726. Jax82
Mornin' everyone, looks like a soggy weekend for most of us in FL and the deep south. Dont mind the rain, its welcome here. We can probably put an end to most of the local wildfires too, which will be nice cause im tired of smellin' smoke.
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Tokage's cold area's shape is a little.... inappropriate

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Morning All, little peek at the weather highlights expected for SFL this weekend. Heat advisory may be issued today and through the weekend. TGIF

000
FXUS62 KMFL 151157
AFDMFL

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
757 AM EDT FRI JUL 15 2011

..HEAT INDICES THIS WEEKEND IN THE LOWER 100 METRO AREAS TO 105
TO 110 OVER THE INTERIOR AREAS
ALONG WITH SCATTERED SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS...

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: 5450
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8393
Quoting IKE:

Yes. I'm at 2.19 for July. Spread out throughout the first 2 weeks of July.
Well, I have gone a little better than that @ 3.32" for July. 7.52" for the year.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8393
Hey Ike. Haven't seen you in awhile. Hope all is well with you.

Hopefully, we'll have something for you to downcast here soon. It's been so slow we actually had a fairly lengthy discussion about Bigfoot on here a few days ago. That's reaching.

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Quoting IKE:

Good morning. 75.9 outside my window.


78 here in Tallahassee and 70% chance of rain later today....We had some big boomers yesterday afternoon around 2:30 and will probalby have a repeat today...It's that time of the year....... :)
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718. IKE

Quoting weathermanwannabe:


Good Morning Ike............Nice to have you back on the am shift.

698. Vincent4989 7:26 AM EDT on July 15, 2011

On the issue of hurricane intensity forecasting (whether by Levi or the NHC), this specific area of tropical forecasting is actually the "holy grail" and while we are getting closer (some of the models), NHC and all the experts are still working on it and it is a challenging issue; I don't know that anyone (or model) has nailed it down yet and I am not certain that they will in the near future.......Much like Spock, we are still at the point of educated guesses on this issue (see link below)

Until recently, even the most sophisticated dynamical weather prediction models were unable to provide skillful forecasts of changes to a hurricane's intensity. However, the latest upgrades to the GFDL hurricane model have led to significant improvements in hurricane intensity forecasts by better representing the atmospheric and oceanic physical processes critical for intensity prediction. The figure above shows the trend of hurricane intensity forecast errors over the last nine seasons and even indicates that in 2006, for the first time ever, the GFDL hurricane model produced intensity forecasts that had smaller average errors than those from the National Hurricane Center's official forecasts.



Link
Good morning. 75.9 outside my window.
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Quoting P451:
MA-ON / TIP size comparison.


MA-ON and TIP in their proper locations.




MA-ON and TIP superimposed.




Add the tail to the right of Ma-on and they look like they're the same size
Dont forget the dying newborn just to the bottom left of Ma-on
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The Atlantic is quiet
None of the reliable models predict tropical cyclone development over the next seven days



yes it may be quiet but mode runs are in fac forcasting some in like the GFS the last few runs dr m nevere looks at the mode runs be for posting the blog
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Quoting IKE:

Yes. I'm at 2.19 for July. Spread out throughout the first 2 weeks of July.


Good Morning Ike............Nice to have you back on the am shift.

698. Vincent4989 7:26 AM EDT on July 15, 2011

On the issue of hurricane intensity forecasting (whether by Levi or the NHC), this specific area of tropical forecasting is actually the "holy grail" and while we are getting closer (some of the models), NHC and all the experts are still working on it and it is a challenging issue; I don't know that anyone (or model) has nailed it down yet and I am not certain that they will in the near future.......Much like Spock, we are still at the point of educated guesses on this issue (see link below)

Until recently, even the most sophisticated dynamical weather prediction models were unable to provide skillful forecasts of changes to a hurricane's intensity. However, the latest upgrades to the GFDL hurricane model have led to significant improvements in hurricane intensity forecasts by better representing the atmospheric and oceanic physical processes critical for intensity prediction. The figure above shows the trend of hurricane intensity forecast errors over the last nine seasons and even indicates that in 2006, for the first time ever, the GFDL hurricane model produced intensity forecasts that had smaller average errors than those from the National Hurricane Center's official forecasts.



Link
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News Flash.


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



Typhoon Ma-On in the West Pacific grows stronger and will threaten Japan early next week.


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Good morning.Look's like the Atlantic waves lost most convection overnight.Hope that continues for a while longer,at least.
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Quoting Vincent4989:
Levi seems to inaccurate in predicting cyclone strength. Whenever a cyclone is forecast to be strengthen, Levi opposes it and claims it will weaken. Later, the storm will strengthen.
Examples are:
Adrian: He thought the upper right corner is losing convection because of dry air.In reality, it's because it's undergoing annular transformation.
Ma-on: He said the storm will strengthen to CAT4 very lately because the eyewall was incomplete because of dry air. But it's intensification was a tad early.
Also, this message is not intended for starting major arguements. It's just that he needs to think again to make sure he's accurate.


Normally I just lurk and read, so I'm certain I'm not a weather expert, or even highly knowledgeable, but I know predictions of future events have the potential to be wrong.

Watch the forecast paths of these storms as they change from run to run and that's pretty obvious.

Every day here in S. FL, there's some inaccuracy in the forecast. Weather is highly unpredictable. Again, not a weather expert, but I do know that.

All levi (or anyone -including the NHC- they get 'em wrong too BTW) can do is take the current information and game it out. It is subject to change.
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710. IKE

Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Good morning Ike. Have you had any decent rain up there yet ?
Yes. I'm at 2.19 for July. Spread out throughout the first 2 weeks of July.
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Quoting mrsalagranny:
Good early morning everyone.Had pretty descent showers here in Mobile yesterday.Hope everyone is prepared for what looks to be a very busy Hurricane Season.
Good morning fellow native, last night was a real soaker. There is alot more to come over this weekend. Everything Im reading leads me to believe, that the hurricane season will start cranking the first week of August. It looks like North and South Carolina, Central and South Fl. and the Northern Gulf Coast from the Western panhandle to LA. will be the hot spots...per Crown Weather... Dont wait prepare now.
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Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Storms are going to do what storms are going to do. No one really knows. Predictions on cycle strength are just that a prediction.

Yup. Cyclones can decide whether to eat other cyclones, move, intensify, weaken, die or resist harsh environment.
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Good morning from Crestview Fl. Rare rain event this year for the area. Four hours of steady rain, some heavy down pours but mostly a steady rain. We received a little over 1 inch. Grass is happy and the weeds are going nuts.
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Quoting IKE:
1-0-0 continues.
Good morning Ike. Have you had any decent rain up there yet ?
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8393
Quoting Vincent4989:
Levi seems to inaccurate in predicting cyclone strength. Whenever a cyclone is forecast to be strengthen, Levi opposes it and claims it will weaken. Later, the storm will strengthen.
Examples are:
Adrian: He thought the upper right corner is losing convection because of dry air.In reality, it's because it's undergoing annular transformation.
Ma-on: He said the storm will strengthen to CAT4 very lately because the eyewall was incomplete because of dry air. But it's intensification was a tad early.
Also, this message is not intended for starting major arguements. It's just that he needs to think again to make sure he's accurate.
Storms are going to do what storms are going to do. No one really knows. Predictions on cycle strength are just that a prediction.
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Quoting Vincent4989:
Levi seems to inaccurate in predicting cyclone strength. Whenever a cyclone is forecast to be strengthen, Levi opposes it and claims it will weaken. Later, the storm will strengthen.
Examples are:
Adrian: He thought the upper right corner is losing convection because of dry air.In reality, it's because it's undergoing annular transformation.
Ma-on: He said the storm will strengthen to CAT4 very lately because the eyewall was incomplete because of dry air. But it's intensification was a tad early.
Also, this message is not intended for starting major arguements. It's just that he needs to think again to make sure he's accurate.
First of all, Levi is excellent in his predictions but remember, they are just predictions. Second, Levi does not claim to be an expert. NHC are the experts and even they make mistakes. Last but not least, Levi has no problem with saying he was wrong about something. I would rather rely on Levi's predictions than many others on here.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8393
703. IKE
1-0-0 continues.
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701. IKE
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 AM EDT FRI JUL 15 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

AN AREA OF DISTURBED WEATHER IS MOVING INLAND OVER NICARAGUA AND
COSTA RICA...AND INTERACTION WITH LAND IS EXPECTED TO PREVENT
DEVELOPMENT OF THIS DISTURBANCE. THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE
...NEAR 0 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT
48 HOURS. HOWEVER...LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL WILL BE POSSIBLE OVER
PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AMERICA DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER STEWART
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Quoting SavannahStorm:


After yesterday I wouldn't doubt it. We got what the old-timers call a "frog-strangler" down here. Then about midnight the worst lightning storm I've experienced in a while.


I actually watched the lightening offshore...it was a spectacular show...
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Looks like 2-4 inches, wahoo! My yard is starting to spring to life.

OUR CURRENT THINKING IS THAT A GENERAL 2-4 INCHES WILL BE POSSIBLE
TODAY ROUGHLY ALONG AND SOUTH OF A METTER-SPRINGFIELD-BEAUFORT
LINE WITH LOCALIZED AMOUNTS POSSIBLY EXCEEDING 6 INCHES IN A FEW
PLACES. ALTHOUGH MUCH OF THIS AREA REMAINS IN SEVERE TO
EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT CONDITIONS...BOTH 1-HOUR AND 3-HOUR FLASH
FLOOD GUIDANCE AROUND 3 INCHES SHOULD BE EASILY SURPASSED GIVEN
THE HIGH PRECIPITATION RATES THAT ARE EXPECTED. COMPLICATING
MATTERS IS THAT HEAVY RAINS COULD ALSO FALL DURING THE NEXT TWO
HIGH TIDE CYCLES...WHICH UNFORTUNATELY ARE RUNNING HIGH DUE TO THE
FULL MOON. PER DISCUSSIONS WITH THE HPC HEAVY RAIN DESK AND
CONSIDERING WHAT HAS TRANSPIRED THIS MORNING ACROSS PORTIONS OF
CHATHAM AND BEAUFORT COUNTIES...WE THINK ITS BEST TO HOIST A FLASH
FLOOD WATCH FOR MUCH OF SOUTHEAST GEORGIA AND FAR SOUTHERN SOUTH
CAROLINA THROUGH THIS EVENING. REMEMBER...A FLASH FLOOD WATCH
SIMPLY MEANS THERE IS A 50 PERCENT CONFIDENCE THAT FLASH FLOODING
WILL OCCUR SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE DEFINED WATCH AREA AND IS NOT A
GUARANTEE THAT FLASH FLOODING WILL BE OBSERVED OR A FLASH FLOOD
WARNING WILL BE ISSUED. DRIER AIR IS FORECAST TO SINK INTO THE
FAR NORTHERN ZONES...INCLUDING THE CHARLESTON METRO AREA...LATER
TODAY SO THE RISK FOR HEAVY RAIN LOOKS MINIMAL THERE ATTM.
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Quoting presslord:


and it's wet here, too


After yesterday I wouldn't doubt it. We got what the old-timers call a "frog-strangler" down here. Then about midnight the worst lightning storm I've experienced in a while.
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Quoting SavannahStorm:
Good morning. We have some definite rotation on Charleston radar this morning:



and it's wet here, too
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Good morning. We have some definite rotation on Charleston radar this morning:

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shhh... wabbit hunting
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Why is it very,very quiet here?
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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.