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After Irene, A Look at Recent US Disaster Costs

posted on September 9, 2011


Insurers have paid out claims totaling almost $25 billion in this year's disasters— compared with the typical $30 billion total for a whole year — and peak hurricane season is less than halfway through.

Hurricanes often account for half of the industry's annual payout.

Tropical Storm Irene was the 10th U.S. weather disaster this year to have caused more than $1 billion in damage, the National Weather Service says. Even in inflation-adjusted dollars, that's the largest number of major events in 30 years of record-keeping.

Here's a look at this year's biggest weather catastrophes, by estimated cost:

— Tropical Storm Irene (Aug. 27-28): The first big storm of the Atlantic hurricane season threatened population centers along the East Coast. It caused extensive flooding and some wind damage but weakened before hitting the most populated areas. It has led to the deaths of 38 people in 11 states.

Cost: $3 billion to $5 billion in insured losses; estimated $7 billion total.

— Flooding in upper Midwest (Summer): Melted snow from the Rocky Mountains combined with heavy rains to flood the Missouri and Souris rivers' watersheds in seven states.

Cost: More than $2 billion so far.

— Flooding of the Mississippi River (Spring, Summer): Heavy rainfall in the Ohio Valley combined with melting snow to flood the Mississippi and the rivers that feed it. It led to at least two deaths.

Cost: $2 billion to $4 billion.

— Drought, heat wave and wildfires in southern plains and Southwest (Spring, Summer): High heat, a lack of rain and then fires ravaged parts of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Cost: More than $5 billion.

— Tornadoes in the Midwest/Southeast (May 22-27): About 180 tornadoes in more than a dozen states caused 177 deaths, mostly from a giant twister in Joplin, Mo.

Cost: More than $4.9 billion in insured losses; total cost not available.

— Tornadoes in the Midwest/Southeast/Ohio Valley (April 25-30): Around 305 tornadoes caused 327 deaths.

Cost: More than $6.6 billion in insured losses; total cost not available.

— Tornadoes in the Midwest/Southeast (April 14-16): About 160 tornadoes, relatively weak compared to the other outbreaks. There 38 related deaths.

Cost: More than $1.4 billion in insured losses; total cost not available.

— Tornadoes in Midwest/Southeast (April 8-11): About 59 tornadoes in nine states.

Cost: More than $1.5 billion in insured losses; total cost not available.

— Tornadoes in Midwest/Southeast (April 4-5): Ten states were hit by about 46 tornadoes.

Cost: More than $1.6 billion in insured losses, 9 deaths; total cost not available.

— Blizzard in central and Northeastern states (Jan. 29-Feb. 3): The storm dumped several feet of snow across much of the nation and is blamed in 36 deaths.

Cost: More than $1.1 billion in insured losses; total cost not available.


Tags: agriculture insurance Irene