Monday, July 10, 2017

Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters at Near-Record Pace So Far in 2017

Chris Dolce
Published: July 10,2017

The United States has experienced a destructive start to 2017 with nine billion-dollar weather disasters through the first six months of the year.
This is a near-record pace topped only by 2016 and 2011, which had 10 such events by the halfway mark in the year, according to NOAA's National Centers For Environmental Information (NCEI).
Damage from severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes, large hail and straight-line winds, accounts for six of the nine weather disasters that have cost $1 billion or more in 2017. Two flooding events and a damaging late freeze in the Southeast round out the other three billion-dollar weather events.
(MORE: Weirdest Weather Events in First Half of 2017)
A combined estimated $16 billion is the total for the nine weather disasters. This is led by four weather events that caused $2 billion or more in damage.
Top 4 Most Costly Weather Events So Far in 2017Cost
Midwest Severe Weather, Minnesota Hail (June 9-16)$2.5 billion
Colorado Hail and Central Severe Weather (May 8-11)$2.2 billion
South Severe Weather (March 26-28)$2.1 billion
Midwest Tornado Outbreak (March 6-8)$2.1 billion
Damaging hailstorms in two large metro areas were major contributors to the high price tag of this year's most expensive weather events thus far.
Colorado experienced its most costly hailstorm on record when the Denver metro area was pelted by hail up to the size of baseballs on May 8. That cost an estimated $1.5 billion of the total $2.2 billion price tag for the May 8-11 severe weather in the central U.S.
Locations and dates of the nine billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2017.
Minneapolis was struck by a hailstorm that caused damage to many buildings and vehicles during a June 9-16 stretch of severe weather in the Midwest that cost $2.5 billion. Losses to insurers were approaching $1 billion for the damage done by the hail on June 11 in Minnesota, according to WCCO.
Eight of the nine billion-dollar weather disasters in the first half of 2017 occurred east of the Rocky Mountains.
The lone exception was California's flooding in February which cost $1.5 billion. For the Golden State, it's a major turn of events considering the billions that the state suffered from losses due to a multi-year drought in previous years.
The nine billion-dollar events have been deadly; 57 people have lost their lives, NCEI says. The majority of the deaths occurred in a Southern tornado outbreak Jan. 20-22 (24 deaths) and during flooding/severe weather that hit the Midwest and South April 25-May 7 (20 deaths).
All told, there have been 212 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the U.S. since NCEI began tracking them in 1980, totaling $1.2 trillion in damage. On average over that period, the nation has seen five to six such disasters each year. In 2016, there were 15 billion-dollar disasters.
Severe thunderstorm events have made up the largest share of these disasters in the U.S., with tropical cyclones, floods and droughts trailing far behind. Interestingly, NCEI notes that tropical cyclones are, on average, the most costly per event ($16.5 billion), followed by droughts ($9.7 billion).
Hurricane Katrina is the costliest U.S. weather disaster in NCEI's database since 1980.

MORE: Late April-Early May Flooding, Severe Weather in Midwest and South ($1.7 Billion)

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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