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

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

Share this Blog
33
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 232 - 182

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13Blog Index

This has been happening here for over a year, what exactly is Dry Slotting? Yesterday my humidity was 10 percent, my low was 35 some areas in South Central Texas got down to 20 degrees officially, humidity at 3 am was 33 percent? I know I am not getting any rain because it is too dry but dry slotting?

DRY SLOTTING ALOFT STILL LOOKS LIKELY...SO WILL
CONTINUE TO UNDERCUT STORM POTENTIAL OVER SOUTH CENTRAL TX...WITH
THE BEST POTENTIAL OVER THE HILL COUNTRY AND EASTERN COUNTIES
MONDAY NIGHT AND EARLY TUESDAY. THUS A MOSTLY DRY FRONT IS
EXPECTED OVER SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS AS THE SECOND UPPER LOW EJECTS
NORTH OF SOUTH CENTRAL TX
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
We had a few wind gusts over 50mph last night,the storm and the high pressure to the northwest created a pressure gradient. Pretty neat,huh? Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Sad news...Andy Rooney has passed away.

Link

Sad, he lived a good life.
:(
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2546
Good morning everyone! Sad news to learn of death of celebrity's and in my personal life two loved ones have passed away. It seems like Autumn is the time of year when many people let go - they don't get to have that one last winter. All the more reason for us to savor each day as it comes and not waste it on bickering or bitterness, but spend it in curiosity and joy and appreciation for the gifts we have been given. So have a good November 5.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Sad news...Andy Rooney has passed away.

Link
Sad to hear but he lived a long, productive life.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8429
Sad news...Andy Rooney has passed away.

Link
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11432
Quoting Patrap:
Asteroid 2005 YU55 To Narrowly Miss Earth (PHOTOS, VIDEO)





An asteroid a quarter-mile-wide will, astronomically speaking, narrowly miss Earth next week.

And while it is the closest an asteroid this size has come to the home planet since 1976, there's no need to call Bruce Willis ... yet.

"There is no chance that this object will collide with the Earth or moon," Don Yeomans, the manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Program office, told Reuters.

But that doesn't mean the asteroid -- named 2005 YU55 -- won't be a threat to earth in the future.

Lance Benner, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a video from NASA (available below) that scientists haven't been able to reliably compute the asteroid's path beyond a couple of hundred years from now.

At its closest point, the space rock will be about 201,700 miles (324,600 kilometers) away, which is 0.85 the distance between the moon and the Earth. NASA says that the asteroid will reach this point at 6:28 p.m. EST on Tuesday.

"In effect, it'll be moving straight at us from one direction, and then go whizzing by straight away from us in the other direction," Benner said.

An asteroid this size -- which, according to Scientific American is larger than an aircraft carrier -- would cause widespread damage if it were to hit Earth, however. The Associated Press spoke to Jay Melosh, a professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Purdue University, who said that the asteroid would create a four-mile wide crater 1,700 feet deep. It could cause 70-foot tsunami waves and shake the ground like a magnitude-7 earthquake.

Even though the asteroid will be inside the orbit of the moon, NASA said that the space rock's gravitational pull shouldn't have any "detectable effect" on Earth's tectonic plates or tides.

Yeomans told HuffPost that the flyby will give astronomers a great view of 2005 YU55 and is an opportunity to do research into the asteroid's composition. He said that it's a C-Type asteroid, which means it contains carbon-based minerals which could potentially be used in future space exploration.

"These objects are important for science ... they're potential resources for raw materials in space that we may wish to take advantage of some day," he said.

The New York Times reported last month on proposed fuel stations in space that one study says could put astronauts on an asteroid by 2024.
Bruce Willis lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Of course, one can't help but wonder whether last night's Oklahoma tremors are related to fracking operations like those earlier in the year likely were*, and as last month's quake in Texas may have been, and as last year's quakes in the UK almost definitely were, etc. I reckon we'll find out...

* - From the report's conclusion: "The strong spatial and temporal correlations to the hydraulic-fracturing in Picket Unit B Well 4-18 certainly suggests that the earthquakes observed in the Eola Field could have possibly been triggered by this activity."
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13613
There was a flurry of very shallow (3 miles) seismic activity several dozen miles east of Oklahoma City overnight, the largest a 4.7. This is the most powerful earthquake in Oklahoma since 1952, and not too much smaller than the state's most powerful quake ever, a 5.5:

tremors

Magnitude 4.7
Date-Time

Saturday, November 05, 2011 at 07:12:45 UTC
Saturday, November 05, 2011 at 02:12:45 AM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location 35.570%uFFFDN, 96.703%uFFFDW
Depth 4.9 km (3.0 miles)
Region OKLAHOMA
Distances 33 km (20 miles) NE of Shawnee, Oklahoma
67 km (41 miles) W of Okmulgee, Oklahoma
68 km (42 miles) SSE of Stillwater, Oklahoma
75 km (46 miles) E of OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma
Location Uncertainty horizontal /- 12.9 km (8.0 miles); depth /- 3 km (1.9 miles)
Parameters NST=240, Nph=246, Dmin=90.2 km, Rmss=1.31 sec, Gp= 18%uFFFD,
M-type=body wave magnitude (Mb), Version=9
Source

Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

Event ID usb0006k8b

Tremor
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13613
Quoting GTcooliebai:
Can a storm get any more perfect?

Cyclone Monica
Quoting Ameister12:

This is as perfect as it gets.

Perhaps not perfect in a tradional sense, but the structure of wilma at peak still amazes me.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Interesting blog update Dr. Masters. I was in the NW suburbs of D.C. this past Friday and Saturday and it was amazing to see snow there in October. The heavy drizzle began to mix with sleet and a few wet flakes around 1:00 pm where I was, then suddenly it was all snow. Didn't accumulate except for a slight slushy dusting in grassy areas. Later that afternoon in Downtown D.C. we encountered somewhat heavy snow (huge flakes) for about an hour. I never expected to experience temperatures below 40 F let alone snow in Virginia in October.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Skyepony:
I see windfarm NW of Billings. It's showing up on radar tonight with the wind. The other ground clutter looks like mountains in wind? Maybe that's causing the constant plume, friction of mountains in high winds. No real smoke plumes on radar.


yeah but on sat it looks like a single source, if it were the mountains wouldn't it be more of a sheet?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
220. Skyepony (Mod)
I see windfarm NW of Billings. It's showing up on radar tonight with the wind. The other ground clutter looks like mountains in wind? Maybe that's causing the constant plume, friction of mountains in high winds. No real smoke plumes on radar.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I wonder what it is, sunline wanna shoot dr. m a message and see if he knows what it is?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Skyepony:


Odd looking on radar there. Some very stationary ground clutter or something.
hmm...that's probably what it is skyepony, since I'm not seeing anything on Wyoming News about any fires in that area.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
217. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


the source looks very stationary...


Odd looking on radar there. Some very stationary ground clutter or something.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sunlinepr:


Just called me the attention that everything else moves but that plume looks stationary....

It could be a very large wildfire, since Yellowstone is on the northern left edge of Wyoming.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:
I have enjoyed everyone's post today. Time to call it a night. Thanks!


Night!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I have enjoyed everyone's post today. Time to call it a night. Thanks!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
hahaha i can tell!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


hahaha you dont like wordiness?


No!
Member Since: April 24, 2011 Posts: 1 Comments: 601
Quoting sunlinepr:


Just called me the attention that everything else moves but that plume looks stationary....



the source looks very stationary...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


A BP refinery? -------> exit, stage right!


Just called me the attention that everything else moves but that plume looks stationary....

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


A BP refinery? -------> exit, stage right!


hahahaha, idk what it is, very weird though
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sunlinepr:
Is that stationary plume in the border of Wyoming / Montana a volcanic eruption? ..... Anyone knows?





A BP refinery? -------> exit, stage right!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


LOL! .... and he DID IT too!


easy peasy ;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WoodyFL:


I always wondered why it was referred to as the tidewater? Come on, 50 words or less, you can do it.


LOL! .... and he DID IT too!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WoodyFL:


Did you ever consider writing tropical updates for the NHC? LOL


hahaha you dont like wordiness?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sunlinepr:
Is that stationary plume in the border of Wyoming / Montana a volcanic eruption? ..... Anyone knows?





no, but that would be one gigantic volcano...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Is that stationary plume in the border of Wyoming / Montana a volcanic eruption? ..... Anyone knows?



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Its the area of rivers and bays that are affected by the tides.

Did it in 13.


Did you ever consider writing tropical updates for the NHC? LOL
Member Since: April 24, 2011 Posts: 1 Comments: 601
Quoting WoodyFL:


I always wondered why it was referred to as the tidewater? Come on, 50 words or less, you can do it.


Its the area of rivers and bays that are affected by the tides.

Did it in 13.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:



yep, causing 25 mph winds with 35 mph gusts here in the tidewater


I always wondered why it was referred to as the tidewater? Come on, 50 words or less, you can do it.
Member Since: April 24, 2011 Posts: 1 Comments: 601
Quoting WoodyFL:
Look at the feature moving South from the North Carolina coast.




yep, causing 25 mph winds with 35 mph gusts here in the tidewater
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Look at the feature moving South from the North Carolina coast.

Member Since: April 24, 2011 Posts: 1 Comments: 601
It's interesting to see how some people here dismiss climate and are interested only in weather. Do they not realize that a changing climate will change the weather where these storms form?

The oceans have gotten warmer and are almost certainly going to continue to warm. Even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today the climate would continue to warm for many years due to the CO2 we've already created.

Those hurricanes that seem to be about to fizzle and then hit warm water and spring to life to become major storms - shouldn't we expect more? What happens if we heat the Gulf up a bit more?

The observation that hurricanes are tending to roll off to the east rather than hitting the US, is that perhaps due to increased water temperatures close to land? A temporary condition, or a long term change?

The tornadoes which grow from the extreme thunderstorms, as we put more heat and moisture into the atmosphere shouldn't they grow stronger?

And what will happen when the Arctic is free of sea ice for part of the summer? Will it increase or decrease the warmth of the Gulf Current? Will it shut down the Gulf Stream?

We are on track to witness a summer sea ice melt out in a very few years. What's going to happen when we get late summer/early fall warm systems coming down from the north rather than the cold ones we now get?

Seems to me that past weather is likely to become a less accurate predictor of future weather as time goes on. If we don't study what is happening with the climate we're likely to get blind-sided by the weather.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FrankZapper:
Dr Nea lectures extensively at the University on GW.

He graces us with his knowledge when he has free time in his schedule.


What we would do without him...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Dr Nea lectures extensively at the University on GW.

He graces us with his knowledge when he has free time in his schedule.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
=================================================== =====
...We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Broadcast...

Sorry for the inconvenience.

================================================= =======
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
I think the blog has never seen the sanity it now enjoy's.


But datz jus me maybe?

: )
Yes, now that several bloggers are getting the treatment they deserve things have stabilized.

Concerning the upcoming winter, my careful analysis of all indicators plus input from fellow prognosticators leads me to conclude that we are going to experience an AVERAGE winter.

So to all Happy Holidays. Stay on the medication. And to those dependent on drink consider help this season.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

All he said is that Dr. Masters owns the blog, so he gets to write about whatever HE feels like writing about. Not sure where you get that he isn't right, and I'm not sure where the attitude is coming from, but I think you should drop it.


Exactly..Its DR. MASTERS blog which is why I asked Nea why he felt like he can speak and act as if he is Dr. Masters..If you had read my comment correctly, then you wouldn't have felt the need to comment..Nea can speak for himself as well as Dr. Masters it seems lately..No attitude, just reminding you that I wasn't speaking to you in the first place and you need to form your own opinions instead of defending people who would turn on you in a heart beat..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ncstorm:


I was asking Nea not you..and no its not the truth..you do realize you can think for yourself right..even on this blog..form your own opinions and not what the so called majority thinks? you too young to be brown nosing so early in life..it will become a part of you..

All he said is that Dr. Masters owns the blog, so he gets to write about whatever HE feels like writing about. Not sure where you get that he isn't right, and I'm not sure where the attitude is coming from, but I think you should drop it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


?

What he said is completely true.


I was asking Nea not you..and no its not the truth..you do realize you can think for yourself right..even on this blog..form your own opinions and not what the so called majority thinks? you too young to be brown nosing so early in life..it will become a part of you..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ncstorm:


Are you Dr. Masters? you talk as if you are? You speak for him? You comment for him? Has Dr. Masters created an account and is now and always the infamous Nea?


?

What he said is completely true.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
bye hurricanes season :-(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Unfriendly:
pretty sure the Galveston Hurricane had 6000 deaths... should be on the list Dr. M.

*edit my bad, "Since 1940"


The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 had at least 6,000 deaths. There never was a true count and some estimates ran as high as 12,000. But, as you said, this predates 1940.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think the 2011 Hurricane Season is mostly over, still I would watch the SW Caribbean or just off the US east coast for a late season surprise, just sayin.....Don't turn your back til mid December, JMO
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
pretty sure the Galveston Hurricane had 6000 deaths... should be on the list Dr. M.

*edit my bad, "Since 1940"
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 232 - 182

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.