Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:30 PM GMT on June 17, 2008
Preliminary damage estimates from the June 2008 Midwest flood puts agricultural damage in Iowa alone at $1.0 billion. At least another $1.0 billion in property damage has likely occurred--$762 million of that in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The price tag is sure to grow, as many locations downstream are facing record flood heights this week. Levee overtopping is possible in at least 28 locations along the Mississippi River and its tributaries in the coming days, according to the Army Corp of Engineers. This year's flooding is one of the ten most damaging non-hurricane flood events in the U.S. since 1980, according to the list of billion dollar weather disasters maintained by the National Climatic Data Center. The damage from this year's flood will not come close to the record $26.7 billion in damage from the catastrophic 1993 flood, though.
Figure 1. Number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S. since 1980. While it is possible that climate change has contributed to the increase in billion-dollar disasters since 1980, increases in population and wealth are primarily responsible. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.
Billion dollar flooding disasters, 1980-2007
Below is a list of all billion-dollar flooding disasters not due to a hurricane or tropical storm in the U.S. between 1980 and 2008. Two damage figures are given for events prior to 2007. The first figure represents actual dollar costs at the time of the event and is not adjusted for inflation. The value in parenthesis is the costs normalized to 2007 dollars using a GNP inflation index.
Midwest flooding of 2008. At least $2 billion in damage.
Northeast Flooding June 2006. Severe flooding over portions of the northeast due to several weeks of heavy rainfall, affecting the states of NY, PA, DE, MD, NJ, and VA. Over $1.0 billion in damage/costs; at least 20 deaths reported.
Texas Flooding October-November 1998. Severe flooding in southeast Texas from 2 heavy rain events, with 10-20 inch rainfall totals; approximately $1.0 (1.1) billion damage/costs; 31 deaths.
Northern Plains Flooding April-May 1997. Severe flooding in Dakotas and Minnesota due to heavy spring snow melt; approximately $3.7 (4.1) billion damage/costs; 11 deaths.
MS and OH Valleys Flooding and Tornadoes March 1997. Tornadoes and severe flooding hit the states of AR, MO, MS, TN, IL, IN, KY, OH, and WV, with over 10 inches in 24 hours in Louisville; estimated $1.0 (1.1) billion damage/costs; 67 deaths.
West Coast Flooding December 1996-January 1997. Torrential rains (10-40 inches in 2 weeks) and snow melt produce severe flooding over portions of California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and Montana; approximately $3.0 (3.4) billion damage/costs; 36 deaths.
Pacific Northwest Severe Flooding February 1996. Very heavy, persistent rains (10-30 inches) and melting snow over Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and western Montana; approximately $1.0 (1.2) billion damage/costs; 9 deaths. Special Report
Blizzard of '96 Followed by Flooding January 1996. Very heavy snowstorm (1-4 feet) over Appalachians, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast; followed by severe flooding in parts of same area due to rain and snow melt; approximately $3.0 (3.5) billion damage/costs; 187 deaths.
Texas/Oklahoma/Louisiana/Mississippi Severe Weather and Flooding May 1995. Torrential rains, hail, and tornadoes across Texas - Oklahoma and southeast Louisiana - southern Mississippi, with Dallas and New Orleans areas (10-25 inches in 5 days) hardest hit; $5.0-$6.0 (6.5-7.1) billion damage/costs; 32 deaths.
California Flooding January-March 1995. Frequent winter storms cause 20-70 inches rainfall and periodic flooding across much of California; over $3.0 (3.6) billion damage/costs; 27 deaths.
Texas Flooding October 1994. Torrential rain (10-25 inches in 5 days) and thunderstorms cause flooding across much of southeast Texas; approximately $1.0 (1.2) billion damage/costs; 19 deaths.
Midwest Flooding Summer 1993. Severe, widespread flooding in central U.S. due to persistent heavy rains and thunderstorms; approximately $21.0 (26.7) billion damage/costs; 48 deaths.
Texas/Oklahoma/Louisiana/Arkansas Flooding May 1990. Torrential rains cause flooding along the Trinity, Red, and Arkansas Rivers in TX, OK, LA, and AR; over $1.0 (1.4) billion damage/costs; 13 deaths.
Western Storms and Flooding 1982 - Early 1983. Storms and flooding related to El Niño, especially in the states of WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, ID, UT, and MT; approximately $1.1 (2.2) billion in damage/costs; at least 45 deaths.
Gulf States Storms and Flooding 1982 - Early 1983. Storms and flooding related to El Niño, especially in the states of TX, AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, and FL; approximately $1.1 (2.2) billion in damage/costs; at least 50 deaths.
New Orleans still vulnerable to a strong Category 2 hurricane
NOAA announced Monday that the rebuilt New Orleans levee system cannot withstand a strong Category 2 or higher hurricane without overtopping occurring. The Army Corp of Engineers has been given $7.1 billion so far to repair New Orleans' levees in the wake of the catastrophic failures experienced during Hurricane Katrina of 2005. Congress is considering giving another $5.7 billion for the effort. While the levees may get overtopped in a strong Category 2 hurricane, they should be more resistant to catastrophic breaches such as occurred in Katrina, when several flood walls completely failed. The Army Corps says that they have fixed the levees with better support so that water won't be able to scour out the base, and put better clay in them to keep them from dissolving.
It's quiet in the tropics. There are no threat areas to discuss, and none of the models are forecasting tropical storm formation in the next seven days.
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