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. sorry human bean

    I also have 3 of the sweetest pitbulls you ever met.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Do you wear oversized ball caps and baggy pants, too? You play the fool for others, don't you coward?

      December 7, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat (in a hat)

    I know I'm about to upset some people here, but I gotta say what I gotta say.
    Why is it that whenever we have a natural disaster, like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts etc., that the first thing people do is blame it on God ? God is a loving being, correct ? So my question to you is, why would God want to cause death and misery to his people that he loves so much ? That just sound like something a loving God would do.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)

      That just doesn't sound. (correction)

      December 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    pit bulls are awesome... and look good and are very loving animals..

    December 7, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Pit Bulls are almost as ugly as you are. You're just another obese slob with a double-digit I.Q., arent you? In a functional society people like you would be happy with their menial jobs, instinctively knowing to defer to their social superiors. Return to God, stupid man.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    i like boxers and bulldogs also..

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

    Owner pleasingest dog in the world. To bad that once in a while they can be owned by bad people that want to be pleased in bad ways. I love my sweet pit bulls and they love me. They wouldn't save me from another person. But they would try to save me from a grizzly bear without thinking twice. Great dogs.....

    December 7, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sorry human bean

    Your foolish enough for all of us keep up the good work judgy perfect godly creation.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sorry human bean

    Does everyone see how easily pauly the wise assed crisschin gets angry judgmental and how quickly he starts the childish name calling. What a fine example you set for your kind.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Return to your beer and sitcoms. Make sure you know what others are thinking before you venture an opinion. Yes, that's always what you do. You don't have an opinion, you have an echo.

      December 8, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. Keksi

    They forgot to ad Republican primary as billion dollar disaster.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sorry human bean

    Wow pauly what a hater you are. Shouldn't you be forgiving me for making you look completely stupid???

    December 7, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Don't be angry. I wouldn't want you to damage your trailer. Is it true that Kenny's father on South Park was based on you? Is your daughter your niece? Do you have the sort of job where people know your name by looking at your shirt? Do you know how to smile in utter subservience and say, "Yes, sir"? I'll bet you do.

      December 8, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. behere

    IT was also the year OBOMBA said we were protecting the civilians in Libya and killing over 3,000 of them, we also destroyed the infrastructure of the country and overthrew a leader of the country... We reaped what we sowed!!
    remember next time before we invade and destroy a country if we are still around to do so..

    December 8, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Maurice

      So lemme guess, if a Republican was president at the time, you wouldn't even say anything about spending zillions of dollars on some unnecessary invasion right? Probably because all it takes is for somebody to continually remind you that they believe in God, and keep talking about how they are such great patriots. Talk is cheap, and people who believe the talk just to believe it are even cheaper. Actions speak louder than words.

      December 8, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. sorry human bean

    Gotta go. By the way your the one echoing what you've been told. I guess your dumb anger has pleased me all it is going to. You sure are easily manipulated. Oh and I don't drink or wear baggy pants. You couldn't be more wrong about everything than you are. I have played with you all I'm going to. So say your bull. see if you feel better for it. It has been fun making your stupidity shine so brightly...

    December 8, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Stop tryng to "save face." Now go have a good cry.

      December 8, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Oh, by the way: I'm an atheist. You rubes were this evening's enterainment.

      December 8, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tyokol

    The election of O'bama was another billion dollar disaster. The economy keeps on plummeting while Barry makes more and more pretty speeches.

    December 8, 2011 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Shoosh now. Get back in your trailer.

      December 8, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    Was it really more disasters, or just the Fed printing so many new dollars that inflation increased the sums involved?

    December 8, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. palintwit

    Speech therapy experts are currently trying to find a way to "de-shriek" Sarah Palin's voice. It seems that most people would rather be locked in a room full of squeaky balloons than have to listen to her.

    December 8, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ken from FL

    Okay, how did CNN miss the opportunity to blame this on global warming?

    December 8, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
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