US Experiences A Dozen Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in 2011

Texas, New Mexico, Arizona Wildfires Spring-Fall 2011

Continued drought conditions and periods of extreme heat provided conditions favorable for a series of historic wildfires across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The Bastrop Fire in Texas was the most destructive fire in Texas history destroying over 1,500 homes. The Wallow Fire consumed over 500,000 acres in Arizona making it the largest on record in Arizona. The Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico was also the state’s largest wildfire on record scorching over 150,000 acres while threatening the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Over 3 million acres have burned across Texas this wildfire season. Total damage in Texas alone due to loss of property, timber and agriculture exceed $750 million. Losses for wildfire activity across all three states exceeds $1.0 billion; at least 5 U.S. deaths.

Hurricane Irene, August 20-29, 2011

Minimal Category 1 hurricane makes landfall over coastal NC and moved northward along the Mid-Atlantic Coast (NC, VA, MD, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, VT) causing torrential rainfall and flooding across the Northeast. Wind damage in coastal NC, VA, and MD was moderate with considerable damage resulting from falling trees and power lines, while flooding caused extensive flood damage across NJ, NY, and VT. Over seven million homes and businesses lost power during the storm. Numerous tornadoes were also reported in several states further adding to the damage. Over $7.3 billion in damages/costs; at least 45 deaths.

Upper Midwest Flooding, Summer, 2011

Melting of an above-average snow pack across the Northern Rocky Mountains combined with above-average precipitation caused the Missouri and Souris Rivers to swell beyond their banks across the Upper Midwest (MT, ND, SD, NE, IA, KS, MO). An estimated 11,000 people were forced to evacuate Minot, North Dakota due to the record high water level of the Souris River, where 4,000 homes were flooded. Numerous levees were breached along the Missouri River, flooding thousands of acres of farmland. Estimated losses exceed $2.0 billion. The flooding also stretched into the Canadian Prairies, where property and agriculture losses were expected to surpass $1.0 billion; at least 5 U.S. deaths.

Mississippi River flooding, Spring-Summer, 2011

Persistent rainfall (nearly 300 percent normal precipitation amounts in the Ohio Valley) combined with melting snowpack caused historical flooding along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Estimated economic loss ranges from $3.0-4.0 billion; at least 2 deaths. Below are more detailed stats, which are still preliminary: $500 million to agriculture in Arkansas; $320 million in damage to Memphis, Tennessee; $800 million to agriculture in Mississippi; $317 million to agriculture and property in Missouri’s Birds Point-New Madrid Spillway; $80 million for the first 30 days of flood fighting efforts in Louisiana; at least 7 deaths.

Southern Plains/Southwest Drought, Heatwave, & Wildfires, Spring-Fall, 2011

Drought and heatwave conditions created major impacts across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, southern Kansas, and western Louisiana. In Texas and Oklahoma, a majority of range and pastures were classified in ‘very poor’ condition for much of the 2011 crop growing season. The total direct losses to crops, livestock and timber approach $10.0 billion; both direct and total economic losses will rise as the drought continues.

Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes and Severe Weather June 18-22, 2011

Outbreak of tornadoes over central states (OK, TX, KS, NE, MO, IA, IL) with an estimated 81 tornadoes. Additional wind and hail damage across the Southeast (TN, GA, NC, SC). Over $1.0 billion insured losses; total losses greater than $1.3 billion and at least 3 deaths.

Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, May 22-27, 2011

Outbreak of tornadoes over central and southern states (MO, TX, OK, KS, AR, GA, TN, VA, KY, IN, IL, OH, WI, MN, PA) with an estimated 180 tornadoes and at least 177 deaths. Notably, an EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, MO resulting in at least 160 deaths, making it the deadliest single tornado to strike the U.S. since modern tornado record keeping began in 1950. Over $6.5 billion insured losses for event; total losses greater than $9.1 billion; 177 deaths.

Southeast/Ohio Valley/Midwest Tornadoes, April 25-30, 2011

Outbreak of tornadoes over central and southern states (AL, AR, LA, MS, GA, TN, VA, KY, IL, MO, OH, TX, OK) with an estimated 343 tornadoes and 321 deaths. Of those fatalities, 240 occurred in Alabama. The deadliest tornado of the outbreak, an EF-5, hit northern Alabama, killing 78 people. Several major metropolitan areas were directly impacted by strong tornadoes including Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Huntsville in Alabama and Chattanooga, Tennessee, causing the estimated damage costs to soar. Over $7.3 billion insured losses; total losses greater than $10.2 billion; 321 deaths.

Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, April 14-16, 2011

Outbreak of tornadoes over central and southern states (OK, TX, AR, MS, AL, GA, NC, SC, VA, PA) with an estimated 177 tornadoes. Despite the large overall number of tornadoes, few were classified as intense, with just 14 EF-3, and no EF-4 or EF-5 tornadoes identified. Over $1.4 billion insured losses; total losses greater than $2.1 billion; 38 deaths [22 of which were in North Carolina].

Southeast/Midwest Tornadoes, April 8-11, 2011

Outbreak of tornadoes over central and southern states (NC, SC, TN, AL, TX, OK, KS, IA, WI) with an estimated 59 tornadoes. Over $1.5 billion insured losses; total losses greater than $2.2 billion; numerous injuries, 0 deaths.

Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, April 4-5, 2011

Outbreak of tornadoes over central and southern states (KS, MO, IA, IL, WI, KY, GA, TN, NC, SC) with an estimated 46 tornadoes. Over $2.0 billion insured losses; total losses greater than $2.8 billion; 9 deaths.

Groundhog Day Blizzard, Jan 29-Feb 3, 2011

A large winter storm impacting many central, eastern and northeastern states. The city of Chicago was brought to a virtual standstill as between 1 and 2 feet of snow fell over the area. Insured losses greater than $1.0 billion; total losses greater than $1.8 billion; 36 deaths.

Source: NOAA and NCDC

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