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Iowa flood price tag at $2 billion and growing

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.

Tropics
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.


Jeff Masters
Do Not Try This!
Do Not Try This!
I am trying to get back from a riverfront home that I am trying to keep the pumps running at. This was a well traveled road.
Where did Alexandria go?
Where did Alexandria go?
From the bridge at the IA/MO state line it does not look like much is left.
Water over the sandbags!
Water over the sandbags!
They could not keep up with the rising waters at this historic train station on the river front.4 more feet of water are forecast.

Flood

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

1001. guygee
Thank you 456, good info for all, as usual.
1002. IKE
1000. TampaSpin 9:17 AM CDT on June 19, 2008
Forget about the CAtl thing look near South Amer....lol


That blob is headed for Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Shear is low...not much time though.
995. 69Viking 10:12 AM EDT on June 19, 2008

Lol..No problem Dude...Anomoly or not, we had plenty of high pressure dominating recently foe several weeks up here and water temps around the coast "shot up" (around the time I was on the water off of Grayton Beach in late May)....Common sense tells me that rapid intensification may be a huge issue with any storms approching the Florida SE coast, or, the FL Gulf later in the season.....
998. IKE

LOL! 50's, wow that would be nice. Stayed in the 70's along the coast, currently 81.
1005. IKE
57.3 was the low.
56.5 was the low dew-point.
1003. weathermanwannabe

The warmer GOM waters have me worried in the sense that recent storms, Ivan, Katrina, and Dennis all weakened as they approached the coast due to cooler waters along the coast. This year with the warmer waters a system could continue to strengthen until the point it makes landfall and that wouldn't be good. Even Opal back in 95 weakened some before landfall.
Good morning all! Looking at the latest satellite loops for our oft-mentioned tropical wave, it remains a fighter. It seems very interesting that convection has been firing with this low-level circulation, albeit very sheared. If this tropical wave could continue firing convection and survive through the 40-50 kt. shear zone that has developed, then this tropical wave could become interesting in the Caribbean. It has become very apparent that dry air is not a great inhibiting factor with this wave. Once can only wonder what could have happened if the shear had not increased.
1008. IKE
1006. 69Viking 9:23 AM CDT on June 19, 2008
1003. weathermanwannabe

The warmer GOM waters have me worried in the sense that recent storms, Ivan, Katrina, and Dennis all weakened as they approached the coast due to cooler waters along the coast. This year with the warmer waters a system could continue to strengthen until the point it makes landfall and that wouldn't be good. Even Opal back in 95 weakened some before landfall.


Opal was a buzzsaw...I got the heck out of here for her. Me and my doberman pincher. Visited a motel in Sneads,FL.
1006. 69Viking 10:23 AM EDT on June 19, 2008 I share the same fear this season; my "gut" is telling me that the Gulf Stream (and the eddies in the Gulf and warm pockets near shore) are going to create "havoc" with some storm headed towards Florida this year and we may see a system getting "stonger" as it nears/makes landfall this year (kind of like Andrew in 92....Gives me the Heebeegeebies...
1003. weathermanwannabe

The warmer GOM waters have me worried in the sense that recent storms, Ivan, Katrina, and Dennis all weakened as they approached the coast due to cooler waters along the coast. This year with the warmer waters a system could continue to strengthen until the point it makes landfall and that wouldn't be good. Even Opal back in 95 weakened some before landfall


Katrina weakened because it was going through The Eyewall Replacement Cycle.
Wind shear is expected to remain above 15 knots over the next 24 hrs so development before the reaching the islands is highly unlikely. Regardless of development, some more moisture in store of the islands. Even though, I'm still not expecting development once it enters the Eastern Caribbean, it will still be monitored.
1012. IKE
8:05 am CDST Atlantic discussion on the wave off of Africa...

"...ITCZ...

ITCZ axis is centered along 9n13w 4n25w 6n40w into northern
Brazil near 3n52w. First available vis imagery indicates that a
tropical wave is probably along 20w/21w. There is some evidence
of a cyclonic turning along the wave axis near 6n. This tropical
wave should be added on the 1200 UTC sfc map. In addition...the
hovmoller diagram is showing the wwd propagation of this
convective activity since two days ago...and the mimic-tpw also
reveals a bulge of moisture in this area."
1014. IKE
456...what island are you on?
Summer begins 2mr night at around 23:59 UTC or 7:59pm EDT/AST
1010. TheWeatherMan504 10:33 AM EDT on June 19, 2008 It was Viking that made that point, but, you raise a great point (so many factors to take into consideration at one time).....That eyewall replacement cycle is another huge factor, in terms of the timing of it, which is independent of the SST issue as a storm approaches landfall......This is exactly why this "rapid intensification" is such a pressing research issue in the field...
Saint Kitts



StormW- Good Morning. Thanks for your update. I hope you been doing fine. Take care talk to ya soon.
Sheri
Thanks Patrap for the video...helps us that just set back and read the blog out here that only understand 20% of what yall are talking about but so interesting!
the winds would have been far more severe in louisiana if it did not go through eyewall replacement.sorry weathermanwannabe.
1022. IKE
456...I know you know this...so why am I typing it...but, looks to go south of you.
1022. IKE 2:52 PM GMT on June 19, 2008
456...I know you know this...so why am I typing it...but, looks to go south of you


While the axis appears to go south of us for now, sometimes these wave amplified northwards and spread showers across the N Leewards, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. But the bulk seems to be south of us.
New Blog...and here we go again GW
1026. IKE
NEW BLOG!
1027. IKE
1025. nrtiwlnvragn 9:58 AM CDT on June 19, 2008
New Blog...and here we go again GW


Oh no.
Well; Gotta get some work done and I'll be back later.........Very Nice Synopsis Storm...
1029. guygee
This is a fun site:

Generate soundings from MAPS or RUC Analyses and Forecasts, RAOBS, Profilers, Radiometers...

You can generate an interactive java upper air sounding diagram for an arbitrary lat-long with global coverage by choosing GFS as the data source.

Enter a latitude and longitude (in decimal, with west and south being negative), separated by a comma.

For example, in the vicinity of the CAtl wave, say roughly 13.5N, 56.0W (13.5,-56.0):
Upper Air Plot from GFS 09Z 3 hr forecast