NOAA: US Has Already Had 10 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in 2019

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Hurricane Dorian. Credit: NASA

Ten weather disasters have caused at least $1 billion in damage in the United States so far in 2019, according to a just-released government report, reports Weather.comAmong the billion-dollar weather disasters in the first nine months of the year were a pair of landfalling tropical cyclones, according to NOAA’s findings. Severe weather, drought and river flooding also made the list.

In records going back to 1980, the U.S. has endured a total of 254 billion-dollar weather disasters inflicting a combined $1.7 trillion (USD 2019) in damage.

Out of those 254 events, 65 have occurred in the last five years. That’s more than twice as many per year as the annual average since 1980. Inflation doesn’t explain the increase, because the figures are inflation-adjusted.

Two Costly Tropical Cyclones

Hurricane Dorian’s deadliest and most destructive chapter was written in the northern Bahamas. However, storm surge flood damage in North Carolina’s Outer Banks where Dorian made landfall, as well as wind and tornado damage, pushed the U.S. damage toll to at least $1 billion, NOAA concluded. More precise damage figures have yet to be determined.

Multiple feet of rainfall from Tropical Storm Imelda near the upper Texas coast flooded thousands of homes, vehicles, and businesses, pushing it onto the billion-dollar disaster list, NOAA said. As with Dorian, a full damage estimate has yet to be calculated.

Three major river flooding events made 2019’s list, starting with a record-breaking deluge in the Missouri Valley in March triggered by a confluence of record cold, melting snow and a bomb cyclone’s rain. Towns were flooded, bridges, roads, and levees damaged and millions of acres of farmland were inundated into the summer.

The months-long Mississippi River Valley flood from spring into early summer also likely inflicted at least $1 billion in damage, NOAA’s report said. Some stretches of the Mississippi River were above flood stage from January through July or August.

Record flooding along stretches of the Arkansas River was the other billion-dollar flood of 2019. Homes, vehicles, businesses, roads, bridges, and levees were damaged in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas from May through July.

The full cost of these three massive flood events is still being assessed, but each one is expected to easily exceed $1 billion.

Severe Weather Leaves Its Mark

The other five billion-dollar disasters this year were from severe thunderstorms or outbreaks.

Widespread damaging winds up to 80 mph swept from the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley to the Northeast, while a combination of tornadoes and flash flooding hammered parts of the South from Feb. 23-25, with an estimated damage of $1.6 billion.

Severe thunderstorms dumped hail as big as tennis balls over the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area on March 24, damaging vehicles, homes, and buildings one day after up to 2-inch-diameter hail pelted the Oklahoma City metro area. NOAA estimated the hailstorms caused $1.6 billion in damage.

A Palm Sunday weekend severe weather outbreak spawned 69 tornadoes, but also widespread damaging thunderstorm winds as far north as New York state, in mid-April, leaving an estimated $1.1 billion of damage in its wake.

An early to mid-May siege of severe weather from Texas to North Carolina was punctuated by a Raleigh metro hailstorm with up to baseball-size hail on May 13. The total damage from this stretch was $1.3 billion, NOAA said.

Finally, an extended severe weather siege from mid- to late May spawned 190 tornadoes, including four deadly nighttime tornadoes in Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Ohio. This most active stretch of tornadoes in the U.S. since the April 2011 Super Outbreak caused an estimated $3.2 billion in damage, according to NOAA.

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