2011 is record year for $1B disasters in U.S.
A series of April tornadoes in the Southeast, including in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was one of 2011's costliest weather events.
December 7th, 2011
08:25 PM ET

2011 is record year for $1B disasters in U.S.

The United States had a record 12 weather and climate disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damages in 2011, and that number could increase as other assessments wrap up, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday.

The country’s old record for weather and climate disasters costing at least $1 billion was nine, set in 2008.

The year’s costliest disaster so far is the April 25-28 tornado outbreak that killed 321 people in central and Southern states, including Alabama, where the Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville areas were hard hit. Losses in that outbreak have totaled $10.2 billion, according to NOAA.

Also on the 2011 list is a multimonth drought and heatwave in the southern Plains and the Southwest, which so far has caused nearly $10 billion in direct losses to crops, livestock and timber, NOAA says. The cost will rise because the drought and the year aren’t finished.

Another disaster on the list is the May 22-27 Midwest/Southeast tornado outbreak, including a tornado that killed 158 people in Joplin, Missouri. That outbreak killed at least 177 people and caused damages of more than $9.1 billion, according to NOAA.

“In my weather career spanning four decades, I’ve never seen a year like 2011,” National Weather Service director Jack Hayes said in a video posted on NOAA’s website. “Sure, we’ve had years with extreme flooding, extreme hurricanes, extreme winter snowstorms and even extreme tornado outbreaks. But I can’t remember a year like this in which we experienced record-breaking extremes of nearly every conceivable type of weather.”

The year already had a record-breaking 10 $1 billion disasters before this week, but NOAA added two to the list on Wednesday: Wildfires in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona (more than $1 billion), which previously had been counted in the southern Plains and Southwestern drought; and June 18-22 tornadoes and severe weather in the Midwest and Southeast (three dead; $1.3 billion).

The other seven $1 billion events, according to NOAA, were:

- January 29 to February 3: Central, Eastern and Northeastern U.S. blizzard (at least 36 deaths, $1.8 billion in losses)

- April 4-5: Midwest/Southeast tornadoes (nine deaths; $2.8 billion)

- April 8-11: Southeast/Midwest tornadoes: (no deaths; $2.2 billion)

- April 14-16: Midwest/Southeast tornadoes: (38 deaths; $2.1 billion)

- Spring and summer: Mississippi River flooding ($3 billion to $4 billion in economic losses)

- Summer: Upper Midwest flooding (five deaths; more than $2 billion)

- August 20-29: Hurricane Irene (45 deaths; $7.3 billion)

NOAA said it is continuing to assess damage data from other events, including a pre-Halloween storm in the Northeast and Tropical Storm Lee.

This year’s 12 events have totaled about $52 billion in damages, but they aren’t the country’s costliest set of major disasters, NOAA said. In 2005, the country had five disasters costing more than $1 billion - including Hurricane Katrina - with a total cost of more than $175 billion in 2011 dollars, according to NOAA.

The United States had a yearly average of 1.2 weather/climate disasters causing more than $1 billion in damages in the 1980s, according to NOAA. The average was 3.8 per year in the 1990s and five per year between 2000 and 2009.

Also see: Severe weather the norm in 2011

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Filed under: Flooding • Hurricanes • Tornadoes • Weather
soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. Paul

    God is punishing this filthy country for turning from Him.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • OpenYourHeart

      How do you know there is a 'god'? And furthermore, how do you it is a 'him'?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • letsgomets2012


      She's gonna be really cheesed at you for saying that.:)

      December 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill in Florida

      Please go back to the Dark Ages where you belong; there is no God for Christ's sake.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ex-Hooligan

      Paul, how about you do some recon for all us poor sinners; go find a sharp stick and fall on it... Report back in 24 hours.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You put on a brave front, but you're not fooling me. You're certainly not fooling God. The frightened children gang up when they're confronted with God's truth.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • forrest

      so move.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Zeus is going to strike down upon thee with his lightening bolts. Remember, god is not the only god...

      December 7, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • WiserThanEwe (not a sheep)

      You mean the musical group? I think they spell that HYM.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matters

      Please! Blaming God for natural disasters is taking the low road. It's just too easy. People like you have given up on actually using your brain to explain things that scare you.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You have turned from God, and He has abandoned you to your vile affections.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. us1776

    Well, whaddya expect when we have building codes and enforcement that are so weak that no house can withstand a 120 MPH wind with debris hitting the house.

    You cannot just have a 120 MPH wind standard. What the h*ll good is that? You're always going to have debris from some weak structure in that wind hitting the house.

    The standard needs to be withstanding 120 MPH wind containing debris.


    December 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • OpenYourHeart

      Many architects and builders cut corners, with shoddy construction. It's true.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You are a vile sinner, us1776. I am familiar with your posts. You ought to be praying, not trying to be "clever" on the Internet.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      Paul, go to your h*ll.


      December 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Gene Cole

    Do the billion $ disasters include President Obama's budgets?

    December 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      No, but they should contain the $11.5 Trillion for the GOP wars-for-profits that got put on the US credit card that we'll all be paying for over the next 20 years.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter Zheutlin

      If you actually informed yourself you would know that according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, new spending under Obama has totaled $1.44 trillion. Under George W. Bush new spending totaled $5.04 trillion. So on whose watch did we get into this deficit mess? If you sit and listen all day to the non-stop propaganda stream on FOX you wouldn't know this.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • WiserThanEwe (not a sheep)

      Peter, Peter, Peter. You've got to take into consideration what the money was spent on. Bush funneled the money to mega-corporations. They in turn enriched the mega-wealthy, who finally let some of that tinkle, ...I mean trickle... down to the little people – gardners, maids, tax accountants, etc. Obama on the other hand wasted the money on non-profitable things like old people and poor children. Where are your priorities?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • TomFoolery

      Well, since the outlays for both of those wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) are only a bit over 1 trillion, your claim of 11 trillion plus isn't even close to true. Thanks for playing.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      TomFoolery, the total expenditures of all the GOP war follies for the past 30 years that were all put on the US credit card including interest now totals $11.5 Trillion. Thanks for playing.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. OpenYourHeart

    please donate new toys to 'TOYS FOR TOTS', so that a poor American child may have a present this Xmas. Thank you.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lions in the sky

    2011 is just a preview of what 2012 will bring.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    I been here off and on bobcat. Personally i dont believe in Aliens but to each there own i guess. Course thats excluding the aliens that post in here from time to time lol

    December 7, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

      lol... ofcourse their are aliens.. how do you explain the 1982 camaro?
      it's airo dynamics are far beyond any other car prievous..
      it was based on a alien spacecraft..

      December 7, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jake

    a 68 camaro is cool. you should get one of those.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. thomas

    I was joking but Timmy BONEHEAD Shinn actually posted three minutes before I did. I KNEW some LEFT WING NUT JOB would try to tell us that it was pollution and MAN MADE global warming causing this. HEY TIM, the reason we have MORE disasters and extreme weather is because their is MORE energy in the atmosphere, and that energy is coming from the SUN. We have a 20% increase in solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth, partly because of increased solar output in the solar cycle (12 years) and partly because of a weakening of the earths magnetic field. (30%) Add that to more cities and concrete instead of grass and trees and thats your reason. Of course that reason doesn't give you an excuse to push your liberal agenda, and raise everyones taxes thru the roof.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick jolie

      it's all the suns fault. tea party rules!

      December 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matters

      It wasn't "left wing nut jobs" that came up with the idea of man made climate change. It was scientists. Just saying. But, I'm glad you mentioned the more cities and concrete thing. It saves you from that realm of total denial that mankind is affecting the planet, because we certainly are. But, just to add to your list of Sun related climate change, the Earth also varies in its distance to the Sun. And your not going to like this one, but the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are way higher than they have ever been in any recording of these levels we can determine since the latest era of biological diversity began. There's simply no way this isn't affecting the planet. But, yeah, there are many other factors involved than was originally proposed by climate scientists a few years ago. It's far more compicated than green house gases alone.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • partial idiot

      You are partly right. There is more energy in the atmosphere, but that is due to the buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, which form a shied around the earth trapping the energy of the sun reaching our planet. This is called the greenhouse effect, and without it life as we know it would not be possible on this planet. The problem now is that there too much of this stuff in the atmosphere, compared to what we had for thousands of years, and this is causing a rapid increase in global surface temperature.

      You are also right in that the earth is absorbing more energy now. Because of the warming, the polar ice caps which normally reflect solar radiation back into space are melting at an alarming rate, which exposes dark ocean water, which absorbs most of the energy hitting it.

      That increased solar output is the cause of the warming trend we see has been debunked a long time ago: http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm . There is some variability in solar output over time, that is true, but only 0.1% around the average. An increase of 20% would be DEADLY.

      Please educate yourself before misleading others.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Michael

    But remember, climate change is just a myth......

    December 7, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rick jolie

    it's all the democrats fault.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GolfFan

    We use Agility Recovery – an amazing company that can help any small to medium sized company prepare for a large disaster or minor interruption... super affordable too. Best decision we've ever made!

    December 7, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The R.O.T.P.

    country is falling to pieces.....

    December 7, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ipmutt

    This is a mostly a mainsteam media event

    December 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    You all think you're so clever, giggling and mocking God. God will cleanse the earth once again.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • WiserThanEwe (not a sheep)

      Face it, Pauly. Any rational and intellegent person knows that god is a myth. It's you they're mocking.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      "Ewe" should think for yourself, not take refuge in popular opinion. You have no interior life to speak of; you barely exist as an individual human being; you are a caricatured "mass man."

      December 7, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. OpenYourHeart

    2012 will be an interesting year. 2112 will be an interesting prog rock album.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
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