We are wrapping up our discussion of 2011 weather disasters. When we began this series of posts, Hurricane Irene had not been downgraded, and the damage predictions were just beginning to come in. Since then, the bills for Irene have continued to pile up, and property insurance companies are preparing damage estimates for Tropical Storm Lee.
Florida escaped Irene. Lee, though, has taken a toll. The storm, downgraded, continued to dump rain on the Gulf Coast Tuesday morning. The question is, will Lee join the Billion Dollar Disaster club?
In our last post, we were recounting this year's major weather events and the insured loss estimates for each. We left off with the two tornado outbreaks during the first half of April.
Not a week after the second round came the deadly third round of twisters. An estimated 160 tornadoes hit the Midwest and Southeast. Insured losses ran to about $1.4 billion, and 38 people died.
A short breather, then $6.6 billion of damage followed. The weather service says about 305 tornadoes swept through the Southeast, the Ohio Valley and the Midwest. Alabama suffered the most loss of life: 240 people died there. The total for those storms was 327 deaths.
A month later, 180 tornadoes hit 15 central and Southern states, causing 177 deaths and $4.9 billion in insured losses. This was the outbreak that flattened Joplin, Mo., taking 160 lives as it did so.
Finally, the Groundhog Day Blizzard caused more than $1.1 billion in insured losses. By the time 1-2 feet of snow had covered parts of central, eastern and northeastern states, 36 people had died.
These disasters don't take the Japanese tsunami or the Australian cyclone into account. And the estimated losses are insured losses. Government expenditures on clean-up and emergency aid are not included.
What does it all mean? For most Floridians, it means holding our breath and hoping that the hurricane season ended yesterday.
USA Today, "In 2011, record-tying nine $1B weather disasters," Dan Vergano, Aug. 18, 2011
Bloomberg.com, "Irene's Estimated U.S. Insurer Cost Drops to $2.6 Billion; Hartford Climbs," Noah Buhayar, Aug. 29, 2011