NOAA Releases Preliminary Data on 2012 U.S. Billion Dollar Weather/Climate Events

Jan 7, 2013 | News & Views, What's New

has released preliminary information on extreme weather and climate
events in the U.S. for 2012 that are known to have reached the $1
billion threshold in losses. As of December 20, NOAA estimates that the
nation experienced 11 such events, to include seven severe
weather/tornado events, two tropical storm/hurricane events, and the
yearlong drought and associated wildfires.

eleven events combined are believed to have caused 349 deaths, with the
most significant losses of life occurring during Sandy (131) and the
summer-long heat wave and associated drought, which caused over 123
direct deaths (though an estimate of the excess mortality due to heat
stress is still unknown).

The eleven events include:

· 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

losses for two events, Sandy and the yearlong drought, are the big
drivers this year in terms of costs and are still being calculated. It
will take months to develop a final, reliable estimate for each. Given
how big these events are likely to be, NOAA estimates 2012 will surpass
2011 (exceeding $60 billion, CPI-adjusted to 2012 dollars) in terms of
aggregate costs for annual billion-dollar disasters, even with fewer
number of billion-dollar disasters. The greatest annual loss to date was
2005 when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Dennis struck Florida and
the Gulf Coast states (costs exceeded $187 billion, CPI-adjusted to
2012 dollars).

Further information about each of these eleven events can be found at

impacts of natural disasters, as seen this year, are a stark reminder
of how deadly and destructive weather can be and how important it is to
be prepared. Through NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation initiative, we are
taking steps to lessen the impacts of extreme weather on our communities
and our nation’s economy. To learn more, visit