NOAA calculates cost of 2012 extreme weather episodes

Hurricane Sandy develops over the southwestern Atlantic. Satellite photo courtesy NOAA.

Heat wave and drought, tropical storms and tornadoes top the list

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Extreme weather events that may be linked with global warming caused at least 239 deaths in 2012, with the biggest loss of life resulting from Hurricane Sandy, which raked the Caribbean before spinning up the East Coast and then coming ashore over New Jersey.

A summer-long heat wave and associated drought that spanned a big portion of North America caused more than 120 direct deaths and possibly more due to heat stress, according to NOAA, which released preliminary data on the year’s billion-dollar extreme weather events.

Although the economic costs for Sandy and the drought are still being calculated, NOAA reckons that 2012 will surpass 2011 in terms of aggregate costs for annual billion-dollar disasters, even with fewer number of billion-dollar disasters. Last year’s weather-related economic costs were calculated at about $60 billion.

The costliest year on record was 2005 when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Dennis struck Florida and the Gulf Coast states, resulting in costs of more than $187 billion.

This year, NOAA tallied 11 extreme weather events and episodes each costing more than $1 billion:

  • Southeast/Ohio Valley Tornadoes — March 2–3 2012
  • Texas Tornadoes — April 2–3 2012
  • Great Plains Tornadoes — April 13–14 2012
  • Midwest/Ohio Valley Severe Weather — April 28–May 1 2012
  • Southern Plains/Midwest/Northeast Severe Weather — May 25–30 2012
  • Rockies/Southwest Severe Weather — June 6–12 2012
  • Plains/East/Northeast Severe Weather (“Derecho”) — June 29–July 2 2012
  • Hurricane Isaac — August 26–31 2012
  • Western Wildfires — Summer–Fall, 2012
  • Hurricane Sandy — October 29–31 2012
  • U.S. Drought/Heatwave — throughout 2012

Visit this NOAA website for more detailed information.



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