Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2011 Extreme Weather Update

The year 2011 was already a record for the most billion-dollar + disasters.  Now two more disasters have been added to the list.  They include Tropical Storm Lee which made landfall in Louisiana on September 2nd and a Rockies and Midwest severe weather outbreak which occurred July 10-14.

Tropical Storm Lee caused wind and flood damage across the Southeast, but considerably more damage to housing, businesses, and infrastructure from the record flooding across the Northeast states, especially Pennsylvania and New York. The storm occurred in an area that had experienced heavy rainfall from Hurricane Irene barely a week earlier.  Meanwhile, in the Midwest much of the damage was from wind, hail, and flooding impacts to homes, business, and agriculture.

Therefore the total number of billion-dollar disasters is now at 14 and there are a few more that are being analyzed that could increase the number.  This brings the cumulative damage estimate to more than 50 billion dollars.

From extreme drought, heat waves and floods to unprecedented tornado outbreaks, hurricanes, wildfires and winter storms, a record 14 weather and climate disasters in 2011 each caused $1 billion or more in damages — and most regrettably, loss of human lives and property. Image Credit: NOAA

The insurance company Munich Re has been collecting and analyzing natural hazards and losses worldwide for more than 35 years.  It has accumulated a database of over 30,000 events.  At the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, Munich Re made the following statement "The number of major weather-related natural catastrophes has almost tripled since 1980. The number of flood loss events has gone up by a factor of more than three, and the number of windstorm natural catastrophes has more than doubled."

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., delivers keynote remarks during the 2012 American Meteorological Society (AMS) Annual Meeting on January 24 in New Orleans, La.  Her remarks can be found in this youtube video.  It is about 34 minutes in length, but the talk starts with information about extreme weather.  You can download the slides here.