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. J-Suede

    Mmmmmmmmmm Gingrich.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    the biggest multi million dollar disater was van halen3...
    that album was the worst ever..
    the new metallicas are terrible also..

    December 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. FU

    Thanks HAARP.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    $175 billion in 2011 dollars, according to NOAA..

    that is chum change to obama..

    December 7, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David Schlier

    In addition, as time passes we build more damagable things per area. This growth is particulary high in areas of the country that climate tells us we shouldn't be living.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • TomFoolery

      There you go! The other part of the fallacy exposed. Well done!

      December 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    i think my face went numb... i cant feel it..
    i got this weed from pickles and i think it was laced...

    December 7, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. andrew

    2012 were all going to die.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    not every one...
    the us navy will make it... they have nuclear powered submarines.. that can last for a long time..

    December 7, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    the have a military base in antarctica also..

    December 7, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      So, you train pit bulls ... an animal training animals. Do you drink a lot of beer and blow your nose on your T-shirt? Repent and return to God, you vile pig-man.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John Walters

    The deterioration of U.S. support for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, has been very costly indeed. "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:3

    December 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keksi

      Only democracy in Middle East is Lebanon.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Keksi: You can lie to us and to yourself, but you cannot lie to God.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. balls

    funny, all this mess happens to Red States and they are the ones that want to either secede from the nation or eliminate the federal governmnet. HYPOCRISY!!! (according to their leaders, God brings tornados and mass destruction for being gay, too)

    December 7, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. scir91onYouTube

    a few billion here, a few billion there. does it matter? this is why i say, NEVER buy anything. always rent. you have nothing to lose when you had nothing in the first place! everything i own in life fits into a car (i don't own a car, i rent one if i need it that bad). really, everything.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sorry human bean

    As long as pauly goes to heaven the rest of the world can go to hell??? Religion has done more damage than anything else. Self righteous crisschins get to know everything makes me wish God would tell me stuff too. People like pauly don't even begin to grasp the damage churches have done cause nobody matters but them self important know it all jerks with their own agenda. Gotta run 14 air conditioners 7 days a week in an empty building . Instead of helping the community around them. Look how hateful and negative jerks like pauly are. Who would want to be a member of his self serving group. Never once did he say anything nice or helpfull he just judges his fellow man as he looks down on them from his throne. How does it go? "Judge not lest yee be judged first and most harshly as all members of all churches will be. First and most harshly. If you were really what you say you are you would be off praying for all us lesser folks. You should shut up and go away.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You are a sorry human being, changing your pseudo-sophisticated opinions according to pop-cultural fashion. You can't hide what you are. Being glib and deliberately obtuse won't help you either, little boy.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sorry human bean

    I had an 89 camaro with a 400 in it loved that car.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sorry human bean

    No wait it was a 79 camaro. 113 in the 8th mile.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
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