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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891. ProgressivePulse
5:45 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting emcf30:
Hurricane impact odds:



Which I had seen that map 9 years ago when I made the decision to move here, lol.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5451
890. BobinTampa
5:40 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
NEW BLOG
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 538
889. TaylorSelseth
5:33 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting Vincent4989:

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"



Very true, and thanks for reminding me about the storm surge factoid.
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 324
888. BobinTampa
5:31 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Storm, you should not spam your own website.



Exactly. Guess he's gotta generate traffic somehow.
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887. islander101010
5:28 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
dr masters blog needed a few more clicks thanks for the responses got to buys some provisions prepare for the worst hope for the best
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4774
886. MTWX
5:25 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting MTWX:

You are right! Check this out..
Link

Givin it only goes through the first part of '04, but it is all of the majors to hit Florida.
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
885. islander101010
5:22 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
erin made landfll around sebastian cat 1 a friend who lived in a wood structure palm bay told me anything more the house would of blown away. lots of storms have made landfall in e central fl just not majors
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4774
884. emcf30
5:21 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Hurricane impact odds:
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1937
883. MTWX
5:19 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting islander101010:
its wierd but try to find a major landfaller up here in e cen florida? lots in s fl. before computers we use to get locked in the library great reading down there herberts books ext

You are right! Check this out..
Link
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
882. islander101010
5:19 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
floyd was close but turned nw instead of wnw like forecast if it was not for my hero steve lyons saying "hold on here we have a change of course" i would of evacuated. jeanie effect
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4774
881. emcf30
5:16 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Central Florida Hurricane impacts since 1950

Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1937
880. islander101010
5:10 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
you all are great! great characters i would not of done this if there was anything. tgif
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4774
879. wxgeek723
5:09 PM GMT on July 15, 2011


1893 Sea Islands Hurricane
Actually ended up hitting Georgia but still skirted the Florida coast as a category 3.
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3602
878. Jax82
5:09 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Scattered but becoming more widespread now.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 1261
876. ProgressivePulse
5:08 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting islander101010:
bet the old archives are getting alot of hits


Your correct that no major has made land fall up your way however, you need to be more specific than ECentral FL because that covers a couple hundred miles.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5451
875. ProgressivePulse
5:06 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
You should educate them in the fact that SFL starts at the Martin/St.Lucie line.


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874. islander101010
5:04 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
bet the old archives are getting alot of hits
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4774
873. islander101010
5:02 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
wxgeek sorry barely a cat 1 david was a nasty major down in the carib. though
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4774
872. wxgeek723
5:00 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting islander101010:
its wierd but try to find a major landfaller up here in e cen florida? lots in s fl. before computers we use to get locked in the library great reading down there herberts books ext




David 1979
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3602
871. islander101010
5:00 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
anyone who lives here will tell you that is south fl. remember they turned wsw before landfall jeanie effect
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4774
870. hydrus
4:55 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting islander101010:
its wierd but try to find a major landfaller up here in e cen florida? lots in s fl.
Two in 1933...sorta...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21488
869. dolphin13
4:52 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/history.shtml# jeanne

Hurricane Jeanne 2004
Jeanne formed from a tropical wave, becoming a tropical depression on September 13 near the Leeward Islands, and strengthening to a tropical storm the next day. Moving west-northwestward, Jeanne struck Puerto Rico on the 15th with 70 m.p.h. winds and then strengthened to a hurricane just before making landfall in the Dominican Republic. Jeanne spent nearly 36 hours over the rough terrain of Hispaniola, generating torrential rainfall before emerging into the Atlantic north of the island. Steering currents in the western Atlantic were weak, and Jeanne moved slowly through and north of the southeastern Bahamas over the next five days while it gradually regained the strength it had lost over Hispaniola. By the 23rd , high pressure had built in over the northeastern United States and western Atlantic, causing Jeanne to turn westward. Jeanne strengthened and became a major hurricane on the 25th while the center moved over Abaco and then Grand Bahama Island. Early on the 26th , the center of Jeanne's 60-mile-wide eye crossed the Florida coast near Stuart, at virtually the identical spot that Frances had come ashore three weeks earlier. Maximum winds at the time of landfall are estimated to be near 120 m.p.h.

Jeanne weakened as it moved across central Florida, becoming a tropical storm during the afternoon of the 26th near Tampa, and then weakening to a depression a day later over central Georgia. The depression was still accompanied by heavy rain when it moved over the Carolinas, Virginia, and the Delmarva Peninsula on the 28th and 29th before becoming extratropical.

Live in Port St Lucie, was here for Jeanne and her predecessor, Frances. Could have been alot worse, but it wasn't alot of fun. The winds around the center at landfall were 120mph, major hurricane status, was pretty wild. Not trying to rub it in, just educate. For what it's worth. Mel
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868. islander101010
4:52 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
its wierd but try to find a major landfaller up here in e cen florida? lots in s fl. before computers we use to get locked in the library great reading down there herberts books ext
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4774
867. TxKeef
4:51 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting fireflymom:
A great deal of cold water coming down the East Coast of the USA.




Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I remember correctly, that isn't showing water temps so much, but moisture content in the air, so that would be really moist air coming down.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 72
866. islander101010
4:46 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
its slow but latin americas getting the heavy rains i would not go out surfing in that brown water especially down there http://www.surfingnosara.com/surfing-nosara/surf-r eports/july-15th-2011-early-looking-much-better-st ill-not-great
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4774
865. hurricanehunter27
4:44 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Poor japan might have a cat 3+ make landfall and grind on there coast!
Thee eye of Ma-on will apear in an hour or two.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
864. EYEStoSEA
4:39 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
863. FtMyersgal
4:38 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Storm, you should not spam your own website.

How can you tell?
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862. SavannahStorm
4:24 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2343
861. quakeman55
4:23 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
The 6Z GFS wants to form something off the tail end of that front off the SE coast by early next week. We'll have to see if that trend continues...
Member Since: March 31, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
860. GainesvilleGator
4:22 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting weatherguy03:
Tropical Update July 15th., 2011


Hey Bob, I haven't seen you on WU much lately. Welcome back! You are just in time for the Cape Verde fireworks to start.
Member Since: September 11, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 745
859. ncstorm
4:16 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Storm, you should not spam your own website.



wait?? I miss the legend?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15738
858. hydrus
4:14 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21488
857. emcf30
4:11 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Super Typhoon Ma-On October 9, 2004 With sustained winds of 160 mph (257 kph) and gusts of up to 185 mph (298 kph)
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856. emcf30
4:05 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Storm, you should not spam your own website.


Oh my, LOL
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855. aquak9
4:01 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Storm, you should not spam your own website.


I think I just broke the + key.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26121
854. nrtiwlnvragn
3:55 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting Hurrykane:
Was just surfing the web for some tropical sites...came across this.
Link


Storm, you should not spam your own website.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11221
853. beell
3:52 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting aquak9:


sad...so very, very sad...I want rain...you won't be wrong.


Maybe I should clarify. There is a good chance of rain along the frontal boundary/leftover surface trough extending to the west. Maybe not so much of a tropical rainmaker for JAX.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16755
852. caneswatch
3:52 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting ProgressivePulse:



That is why it has me wondering. I am still in the denial phase of the high setup, I refuse to mention it, lol.


LOL I'll be keeping an eye on it.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
851. Waltanater
3:49 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
@ yonzabam...yes everyone was looking at that wave yesterday. I too saw some rotation in that about 43W.
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850. weatherguy03
3:49 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Tropical Update July 15th., 2011
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29705
849. WeatherfanPR
3:48 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting Hurrykane:
Was just surfing the web for some tropical sites...came across this.
Link



nice link
Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1590
848. pottery
3:48 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
HEY!!
Who banned the Wave that was supposed to bring me some rain???
Yesterday it was looking fine, and now it's been minussed!
Please put it back where you found it!!

It is getting a little too dry around here at 11n 61w.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24452
847. aquak9
3:46 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting beell:


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.


sad...so very, very sad...I want rain...you won't be wrong.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26121
846. caneswatch
3:44 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting islander101010:
i live in the center of e cen fl. 60mph winds is not even hurricane strength let alone major peace


It made landfall there as a major. It doesn't mater what the winds were where you lived. It made landfall as a major Cat. 3.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
845. Waltanater
3:44 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting Vincent4989:
No new blog?
...when the "wunderblogger" is good and ready!
Member Since: May 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1472
844. beell
3:40 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting stillwaiting:
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....


Different disturbance. A somewhat stationary mid level vort max and the frontal boundary. Movement, if any, should be slowly west. But a rainmaker for sure.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16755
842. Torgen
3:38 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
Quoting hydrus:
Strong high pressure that will increase heat and drought.


Wow! That high pressure looks like "Gandalf of the Gulf": "None shall pass!" If anything gets turning in the CATL, it has no where to go but Central America.
Member Since: June 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
841. beell
3:37 PM GMT on July 15, 2011
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.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16755

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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.

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