Weather Buzz

Disastrous weather is expensive, costs billions

A little more than a month into 2017, and no single weather disaster has surpassed the billion-dollar mark — yet. January’s deadly tornado outbreak and the recent Nor’easter didn’t come close.

Last year, however, the United States saw 15 different weather disasters that cost at least $1 billion in 2016 according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

That’s the second-highest number of billion-dollar disasters in a single year since 1980, only behind the 16 billion-dollar disasters in 2011.

The list of weather disasters that caused $1 billion or more is almost as diverse as it is long.

The list includes events you’d expect to see on a list like this: Hurricane Matthew, the wildfires across the southern and western United States, severe weather outbreaks, flooding and even flooding.

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However, the number of flooding events made 2016 stand out more than any other year.

Last year doubled the previous record for the number of inland flooding events surpassing $1 billion in damages. There were four.
Texas and Louisiana flooded in early March. Then, Houston flooded in mid-April. West Virginia flooded in June, and then Louisiana flooded again in August.

The second round of flooding in Louisiana and Hurricane Matthew were easily the two most expensive events from 2016. Each of them cost an estimated $10 billion.

As for 2017, we’ll have to wait and see, but it appears the number of billion-dollar weather events is on the rise. Since 1980, the average number of billion-dollar weather events is 5.5 events per year. In the most recent five years, however, that number is almost double at 10.6 events per year.

Year in review: Weather 2016

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