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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Perhaps I missed an explanation for this, but why does Dr. Masters' local weather say Annette Island, Alaska? Isn't WU headquartered in Michigan?
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490. beell
Today 200mb 18Z

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Quoting txjac:


I want some! We had about 22 drops today ...
Send it this way!
Great news, East and Southeast Texas have a decent chance next several days.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Looping it, it seems to be trough split originated.


After looping the NOGAPS, it seems to be that way. Perhaps a similar situation to Nate/Ophelia in 2005, where a single trough split spawned two distinct entities which ultimately became tropical cyclones.
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Quoting islander101010:
black and white water vapor i dont see a tutt


That's because there isn't one. However, it is forecast to return over the next few days.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


That might come from the tropical wave near 70W. Upper-level winds will certainly be favorable (though not anticyclonic), and it's not far out, so it's something to watch.


Looping it, it seems to be trough split originated.
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XX/AOI/XL
MARK
8.88N45.88W
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562

ABNT20 KNHC 142335

TWOAT



TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK

NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL

800 PM EDT THU JUL 14 2011



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



AN AREA OF DISTURBED WEATHER OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA IS

DRIFTING WESTWARD. DEVELOPMENT...IF ANY...OF THIS SYSTEM SHOULD BE

SLOW TO OCCUR DUE TO PROXIMITY TO CENTRAL AMERICA AND THERE IS A

LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF IT BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING

THE NEXT 48 HOURS. REGARDLESS OF DEVELOPMENT... LOCALLY HEAVY

RAINFALL IS POSSIBLE OVER PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AMERICA

DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS.



ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE

NEXT 48 HOURS.



$$

FORECASTER BEVEN
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black and white water vapor i dont see a tutt
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Quoting txjac:


Awesome, hopefully some hits here

I hope you get some. We could all use a few days of rain here in Texas right now.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Levi, what do you make of this?

12z ECMWF 144 hrs.

NOGAPS 120 hours, same area but just a light spinup



That might come from the tropical wave near 70W. Upper-level winds will certainly be favorable (though not anticyclonic), and it's not far out, so it's something to watch.
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Levi, what do you make of this?

12z ECMWF 144 hrs.

NOGAPS 120 hours, same area but just a light spinup

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478. txjac
Quoting Chriscf76:

I'm in Jefferson County. Looks like the rain is headed west.


Awesome, hopefully some hits here
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Quoting Hurrykane:


Tom, the TUTT is forecast to lift out as the wave approaches.


Looks like its still there to me

18z GFS 72hrs



72hr voritcity shows the wave just off the lesser Antilles, right under the shear zone created by the TUTT.



I mean there's no doubt an upper level anticyclone will follow the wave and nudge under the TUTT a bit, but the TUTT will still be there for the most part. As a result, upper level conditions wont be ideal for development...that's why this wave currently has zero model support. Maybe when it nears central America it will have a chance, but that's a ways out.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting txjac:


I want some! We had about 22 drops today ...
Send it this way!

I'm in Jefferson County. Looks like the rain is headed west.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:


Interesting that we have a higher percentage for the wave in the CATL than the area in the Caribbean.
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473. JLPR2
Has a nice spin, but it is lacking in the convection department. If it pops at dmax we might have a new circle at 8am.
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Quoting Patrap:
Ma-on



appears to be trying to throw that deep convection around to the northern side
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470. txjac
Quoting Chriscf76:
Finally getting some rain in South east Texas. Wish it would stay awhile.


I want some! We had about 22 drops today ...
Send it this way!
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Ma-on



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Quoting Levi32:
Ma-on is now a major typhoon; category 3. If he is going to make Cat 4, it will still take a little while until the EWRC is complete and dry air moves out of the way. There is very little between the northern eyewall and clear skies. Landfall is forecasted to be while Ma-on is weakening, but still a major typhoon, which makes sense.



He? Aren't typhoon names mostly objects or places? Just throwing that out there, lol.
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463. JLPR2
Quoting JRRP:
i haven't seen this


and


Flat neutral conditions all the way to October with la Niña making another appearance... That cant be good. :\
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Finally getting some rain in South east Texas. Wish it would stay awhile.
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460. JRRP
i haven't seen this


and
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Ma-on is now a major typhoon; category 3. If he is going to make Cat 4, it will still take a little while until the EWRC is complete and dry air moves out of the way. There is very little between the northern eyewall and clear skies. Landfall is forecasted to be while Ma-on is weakening, but still a major typhoon, which makes sense.

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457. JLPR2
The CATL's vort is getting stronger.
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456. xcool
Euro,12z show low in gom Possible develop it





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ITCZ, Easterly Waves and Hurricanes

File image
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GFS Ensembles, UKMET Ensembles, and ECMWF Ensembles temporarily take the MJO out of our area, but then hint at having it come right back.
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Quoting Hurrykane:
The wave near 45W appears to be "pushing" the dry air out of the way

WATER VAPOR LOOP
Link
yea, little lacking in deep convection at the moment but it is dmin right now so this is to be expected. Upper level conditions are currently favorable, but they wont be for much longer. Once the wave reaches the lesser Antilles is will meet some strong shear from that TUTT
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451. EYEStoSEA
10:33 PM GMT on July 14, 2011
Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Not really pop-ups since there is a front in the vicinity.


I know Boho, wish that.. ridge/cap/high....would get the heck outta Dodge...
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450. Patrap
10:28 PM GMT on July 14, 2011
Quoting sunlinepr:
24 small quakes in our area... (2.3 to 4.3)


The USO base is going on Vacation seems by that graph
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449. NICycloneChaser
10:27 PM GMT on July 14, 2011
Quoting Hurrykane:
CATL IR2 LOOP
Link


Definite spin on the last few frames. Looks surprisingly good.
Member Since: August 10, 2010 Posts: 2 Comments: 1971
448. Patrap
10:26 PM GMT on July 14, 2011
..eye's keeps me slide rule close..at ALL times..

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447. bohonkweatherman
10:26 PM GMT on July 14, 2011
Hopefully it will not end this way, but this summer is off to the hottest start in recorded Austin history.

You can see in the tables below our average high temperature since June 1st ranks #1 on the all-time list at 100.3 degrees. Our average daily temperature during this period also ranks #1 at 87.5 degrees. For climate purposes, summer includes the months of June, July and August.

The last time a summer began this hot was two years ago when 2009 became Austin’s hottest in history. You’ll recall Austin hit 100 degrees or hotter 68 times that summer, just one shy of the all-time record.

By the end of the day Thursday, Austin will have recorded highs of 100 or above 31 times this summer. On the same date in 2009, temperatures had reached triple digits 28 times.
Austin Extremes Highest Average Average Temperature degrees F Days: 6/1 - 7/12 Length of period: 42 days Years: 1850-2011 Rank Value Ending Date 1 87.5 7/12/2011 2 87.4 7/12/2009 3 86.7 7/12/2008 4 86.6 7/12/1998 5 86.1 7/12/1925
Austin

Extremes Highest Average Maximum Temperature degrees F Days: 6/1 - 7/12 Length of period: 42 days Years: 1850-2011 Rank Value Ending Date 1 100.3 7/12/2011 2 99.9 7/12/2009 3 99.4 7/12/1925 4 98.9 7/12/2008 5 98.7 7/12/1923 Ending Date is the last day of the 42-day period. Only periods with no missing data were evaluated. This station's record may include data from more than one, possibly incompatible, locations. It reflects the longest available record for the Austin Area.

(Data in table above from Bob Rose and National Weather Service
- Photo from NOAA)
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445. louisianaboy444
10:22 PM GMT on July 14, 2011
My mistake i multiplied by 100 twice it is actually a 0.097 percent chance of happening in a 10 day period
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443. VAbeachhurricanes
10:20 PM GMT on July 14, 2011
Quoting presslord:


here it feels like the inside of a Charleston rice steamer


That cold front didnt push much farther south i guess, sorry for hogging it all.
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442. Chriscf76
10:20 PM GMT on July 14, 2011
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:





screen grab from ISS TV image of Ma-On

That's awesome!
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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.