Fourteen U.S. billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011: a new record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:12 PM GMT on November 04, 2011

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It's time to add another billion-dollar weather disaster to the growing 2011 total of these costly disasters: the extraordinary early-season Northeast U.S. snowstorm of October 29, which dumped up to 32 inches of snow, brought winds gusts of 70 mph to the coast, and killed at least 22 people. Not since the infamous snow hurricane of 1804 have such prodigious amounts of October snow been recorded in New England and, to a lesser extent, in the mid-Atlantic states. Trees that had not yet lost their leaves suffered tremendous damage from the wet, heavy snow. Snapped branches and falling trees brought down numerous power lines, leaving at least 3 million people without electricity. The damage estimate in Connecticut alone is $3 billion, far more than the damage Hurricane Irene did to the state. Hundreds of thousands still remain without power a week after the storm, with full electricity not expected to be restored until Monday.


Figure 1. Wet, heavy snow from the October 29, 2011 snowstorm weighing down trees still sporting their fall leaves in Winchester, VA. Image credit: wunderphotographer MaddScientist98.

The October 29 snow storm brings the 2011 tally of U.S. billion-dollar weather disasters to fourteen, thoroughly smashing the previous record of nine such disasters, set in 2008. Between 1980 - 2010, the U.S. averaged 3.5 of these weather disasters per year. Through August, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) estimated that ten weather disasters costing at least $1 billion had hit the U.S., at total cost of up to $45 billion. However, the October 29 snow storm brings us up to eleven billion-dollar disasters, and a new disaster analysis done by global reinsurance company AON Benfield adds three more. Flood damage from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee in the Northeast on September 8 is now estimated at more than $1 billion, and two outbreaks of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes--one in April and one in June--now have damage estimates exceeding $1 billion. A remarkable seven severe thunderstorm/tornado outbreaks did more than $1 billion each in damage in 2011, and an eighth outbreak July 10 - 14 came close, with damages of $900 million. In total, the fourteen billion-dollar disasters killed 675 people. Tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods in these fourteen disasters killed over 600 people, putting 2011 into fourth place since 1940 for most deaths by severe storms. Only 2005, with over 1,000 deaths caused by Katrina, 1969, with over 700 hurricane and flood-related deaths, and 1972, with 676 hurricane and flood-related deaths, were deadlier years for storms, according to NOAA. The fourteen billion-dollar weather disasters of 2011 caused $53 billion in damage, putting 2011 in fifth place for most damages from billion-dollar weather disasters. The top damage years, according to NCDC in adjusted 2011 dollars, were 2005 (the year of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma), 2008 (Hurricane Ike), 1988 (Midwest drought), and 1980 (Midwest drought). With nearly two months remaining in 2011, the potential exists for more billion-dollar weather disasters this year. Our first opportunity comes Tuesday, when the NOAA Storm Prediction Center is forecasting the possibility of a severe weather outbreak centered over Arkansas and Missouri.


Video 1. Remarkable video of the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama during the April 25 - 30, 2011 Super Outbreak. This tornado outbreak was the most expensive U.S. weather-related disaster of 2011, with damages estimated at $9 billion. Fast forward to minute four to see the worst of the storm.

Here are AON Benfield's estimates of the damages and NCDC's estimates of the death tolls from 2011's fourteen billion-dollar weather disasters (a clickable version of this table with information on each disaster is available on our severe weather resource page):



Have a great weekend, everyone, and I'll be back with a new post on Monday.

Angela Fritz is subbing for Ricky Rood this week, and has written an interesting post on the latest climate change controversy, the release of the new Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study by skeptic Dr. Richard Muller.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:




Yes, we are who we are, but you are allowed only one more grammatical error until the end of the year.

What do you think of 98L? Wrapping a little moisture around it now.


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Quoting aspectre:
549 TampaSpin "[Tropopause Theta map]"

What the heck are the units attached to the numbers of Tropopause Theta? millibars?
atmospheric-pressure itself? or the amount of decrease from 1000millibars ("sea level") ?


Well, Theta-E is just the temperature that results when a parcel of air is fully released of latent heat, and then lowered adiabatically to 1000 mb. I'd imagine that, generally, the higher numbers (red) indicate greater Theta-E values, while the lower numbers (blue) obviously indicate lower values.
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Quoting WeatherfanPR:



LOL...let me tell you, it feels awesome !!!


I bet. :/

I suppose I did have Lee, but it certainly wasn't what I'd call "exciting" by any stretch of the word. Let me put it this way: I could have slept through it.
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-----
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Quoting KoritheMan:
572.

My only complaint is that I wasn't there to witness it.



LOL...let me tell you, it feels awesome !!!
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549 TampaSpin "[Tropopause Theta map]"

What the heck are the units attached to the numbers of Tropopause Theta? millibars?
atmospheric-pressure itself? or the amount of decrease from 1000millibars ("sea level") ?
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572.

My only complaint is that I wasn't there to witness it.
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Quoting RukusBoondocks:
as usaul the low will go out to sea


Of course it will. It's November.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Wait until Isaac of next year.


Isaac is such an extravagant name.
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I did it, finally. I finished my little documental of Hurricane Earl when it brushed Puerto Rico in 2010.

for those here at the moment, I hope you like it. Tomorrow I will share it again.



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as usaul the low will go out to sea
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Its a slow day when I can read all of today's TWO's from 2 to 7 on a single 200 comment page. During Irene we went through one of those in half an hour. Busy I've ever seen it on here was during Irene.

Wait until Isaac of next year.
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Quoting Grothar:


That should read "more tasty" or "tastier". Double superlative. I expected more from you, Geoff.


Must be the time change....you Twit.
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Whole toad-in-the-hole
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I heard the legs are more tastier.


That should read "more tasty" or "tastier". Double superlative. I expected more from you, Geoff.
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Its a slow day when I can read all of today's TWO's from 2 to 7 on a single 200 comment page. During Irene we went through one of those in half an hour. Busy I've ever seen it on here was during Irene.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Heard they're better served raw than cooked too.


My mistake...read to quickly...thought he wrote toad hole.
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It's nasty either way.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Heard they're better served raw than cooked too.


I've heard I'm never gonna find out.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I heard the legs are more tastier.


Heard they're better served raw than cooked too.
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Quoting weatherbro:
I ate a toad whole today


I heard the legs are more tastier.
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Quoting weatherbro:
I ate a toad whole today

Yeah...Ummm....we really....don't care about that.

lol.
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Quoting Grothar:
hmm!


Who let the old man out??? Just kidding, good to see you Grothar.
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Quoting weatherbro:
I ate a toad whole today


That's probably why you have a throg in your throat. Just don't croak.
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I ate a toad whole today
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Quoting Grothar:
hmm!


GROTHAR!
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Hi Grothar, 'plus'ed for checkin' up on us.

534 iceagecoming "I blame big oil, keystone xl, AGW, and Climate Sceptics.
For earthquakes and occupiers.

535 Patrap "S-k-e-p-t-i-c-s"

Then again, he coulda meant 'septics'.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Morning. I was looking at that when I got up. We actually got about 5 minutes of rain from those skimpy clouds this morning.... lol



We had rain today later in the day as well. I went in the large swells on the northern shore, and now i'm completely exhausted. Going tomorrow as well ;)
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Hi Grothar! Missed ya.
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Quoting Grothar:
hmm!

mmh!?
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hmm!
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Really seems unfair that the only way central TX can get rain is along with a severe wx threat.... [sigh]
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Taz...be nice...



am being nic lol
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Quoting Tazmanian:





sure i will POOF you go

Taz...be nice...
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Since the previous mapping for 6Nov_6amGMT :
28.2n68.8w has been re-evaluated&altered for Invest98L's_12amGMT_ATCF
28.4n68.7w, 28.3n68.4w, 28.0n68.6w, 27.8n68.7w
: Starting 5Nov_6amGMT and ending 7Nov_12amGMT

The 7 line-segments represent ExtraTropicalCyclone*98L's path.

Deriving the travel-speed&heading from the straightline connecting the ATCF coordinates
spanning the 6hours between 12amGMT then 6amGMT:
Invest98L's travel-speed was 2.5mph(4k/h) on a heading of 204degrees(SSW)

Copy&paste isj, bda, 33.0n73.8w-31.2n72.5w, 31.2n72.5w-29.8n71.1w, 29.8n71.1w-28.7n69.8w, 28.7n69.8w-28.4n68.7w, 28.4n68.7w-28.3n68.4w, 28.3n68.4w-28.0n68.6w, 28.0n68.6w-27.8n68.7w into the GreatCircleMapper for more info

* Since 98L's travel-speed is 4k/h, and its MaximumSustainedWinds is ~74.1k/h(40knots),
98L's spin is ~70.1k.h(46mph)

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Hi Baha, will try to look you up or at least determine where is the local Starbucks!
I hope the weather will not be too rough.
And yes, working a lot and going until exhausted so looking forward to a break!
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Quoting Chicklit:
Am hoping the Bahamas are mild this weekend for our 4-day cruise to Nassau from Port Canaveral. Taking Mom and going with friends we did the trip with 7 years ago so should be a good time doing nothing and even indulging without guilt.
Hey, Chick! Seems like every time recently I've seen u on lately u say "Too tired / long day / goodnight" before I get a chance to say howarya.... :o)

Glad to hear u are making a trip to my lovely isle... drop me a WUmail if you can; maybe we can "do lunch"!

Either way, enjoy the trip. The weather does look like it shouldn't be too bad. After all, the BAMS is a major outlier.... lol
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539. skook
Quoting Tazmanian:
did you no that you can re move IE if you ues window 7 if you dont evere ues it



Please, try to stay on topic. We do have a yellow circle in the Atlantic.

A NON-TROPICAL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM LOCATED ABOUT 390 MILES
SOUTHWEST OF BERMUDA IS PRODUCING A LARGE AREA OF GALE-FORCE
WINDS OVER THE WEST-CENTRAL ATLANTIC. ALTHOUGH THE ASSOCIATED
THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY REMAINS LIMITED...THE LOW COULD GRADUALLY
ACQUIRE SOME SUBTROPICAL CHARACTERISTICS DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF
DAYS. THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A
SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES LITTLE OR
DRIFTS SLOWLY WESTWARD. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS GALE AREA
CAN BE FOUND IN HIGH SEAS FORECASTS ISSUED BY THE NOAA NATIONAL
WEATHER SERVICE UNDER AWIPS HEADER NFDHSFAT1...AND UNDER WMO HEADER
FZNT01 KWBC.
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Am hoping the Bahamas are mild this weekend for our 4-day cruise to Nassau from Port Canaveral. Taking Mom and going with friends we did the trip with 7 years ago so should be a good time doing nothing and even indulging without guilt.
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The government of Thailand says people have to get used to living with the floods that have engulfed the country.

Water is creeping closer to the heart of Bangkok, the capital, and while people have adapted to aquatic circumstances, many are fed up.

The government says that those people already suffering from the effects will have to endure the flooding for at least two more weeks.

Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay reports from Pathum Thani.

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S-k-e-p-t-i-c-s
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Quoting Cotillion:


There's a lot we don't know about fault systems. Maybe Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma share a similar fault system given their geographical proximity so when one kicks out, others do in succession. Fault lines still haven't been fully mapped yet, especially as some go back hundreds of millions of years. Just a thought.

Virginia may be separate.

I blame big oil, keystone xl, AGW, and Climate Sceptics.
For earthquakes and occupiers.
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Geoff, my fave track so far is the BAMS, which brings our lovely invest into the WCar on a "reverse hurricane" track... lol... wonder if it will then backtrack, and become the first boomerang storm of the season.... lol
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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.