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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TWC: 2010 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters

2010 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters

by Chris Dolcy, meteorologist, The Weather Channel

Since 1980, a total of 99 weather-related disasters have resulted in damages and costs reaching or exceeding $1 billion. 

Fast Facts 
  • Costliest disaster: Hurricane Katrina($133.8 billion) 
  • Every year since 1988 has had at least one disaster of a billion dollars or more. 
  • Most billion-dollar disasters in a single year: 9 in 2008 

In 2010, three weather events were added to this exclusive list, which is compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

The map below shows the number of these disasters that have occurred in each state since 1980. Keep in mind, a single billion-dollar disaster can include multiple states. 

So, why does the South have the greatest concentration of these disasters? I'll give you one hint: it's related to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. 

Image source: NOAA 

If you guessed tropical storms and hurricanes, then you are correct. In fact, they account for 27 of the 99 billion-dollar weather disasters since 1980. 

More on tropics: 2010 hurricane season recap 

Severe weather (tornadoes, hail, damaging winds) ranks in second place, with a total of 21. Below is a full breakdown of each disaster type from NOAA. 

More severe weather:
 Tornado risk by month and location | Severe weather safety 

Disaster Type
Number of Events
Tropical Storms/Hurricanes
Severe Weather
Heat waves/Droughts
Non-Tropical Floods
Ice Storms

Next, find out what disasters were added to the billion-dollar list in 2010. 

Below are the 2010 weather disasters NOAA added to their billion-dollar list.

March Northeast FloodingSee photosiWitness

Flooding outside a mall in Warwick, R.I.
 (Image credit: iWitness Weather user joecro)

  • Extensive flooding in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
  • Over $1.5 billion in damages and costs.
  • Worst flooding on record in Rhode Island.
  • 2 record crests on the Pawtuxet River @ Cranston, R.I. in 16 days.
  • Other record flooding: Centerdale, R.I., Saxonville, Mass., Medway, Mass., Bridgewater, Mass., Wilmington, Mass., Pompton Lakes, N.J.
  • Wettest March on record: Boston (14.87"), Providence (16.34", record of any month), New York City (10.69"), among others.
  • Total of 11 fatalities.

April-May Mid-South Flooding and Severe Weather
Interactive mapNashville rainfall totals

Flooded I-24 near Nashville, Tenn. 
(Image user WSMVJoshDevine)

  • Flooding, hail, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms struck portions of Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia from April 30 to May 2.
  • $2.3 billion in damages and costs. $1 billion in the Nashville, Tenn., area alone.
  • Western and middle Tennessee hardest hit, with local rainfall totals of 18-20 inches south and west of Nashville.
  • 2 of top 3 wettest calendar days of record in Nashville on consecutive days (5/1: 6.32"...5/2: 7.25")
  • Flood waters inundate downtown Nashville, Grand Ol' Opry, LP Field. Cumberland River crests at highest level since 1937.  At least 8 locations in Tennessee had record flooding.
  • Around 50 tornadoes struck from April 30 into the early morning hours of May 2 in portions of Miss., Ark., Mo., Ky. and Tenn.  An EF3 tornado hit Scotland, Ark., with one killed and 24 injured along a 20-mile path.  Another EF3 tornado killed 3 on a path from Benton, Miss., to Hardeman, Tenn.
  • All together there were 32 fatalities from the flooding and severe storms.

Middle May Midwest Severe Weather
See photos | Interactive map: Tornado reports
Archive: Watch outbreak unfold | Bettes blog

Click to see more photos
Tornado damage in Norman, Okla.
 (Image credit:iWitness Weather user Doricotter)

  • Severe thunderstorms with tornadoes and hail struck several states in the Midwest, including Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas.
  • Over $3 billion in damages and costs. More than $1.5 billion in Oklahoma alone.
  • 68 tornadoes hit Oklahoma and Kansas on May 10, 2010.  Two of the tornadoes were rated EF4.
  • 59 tornadoes hit Oklahoma alone on that day, making it the second largest outbreak in state history.
  • 70 tornado warnings were issued on May 10; 31 of those were from NWS-Norman, OK.
  • Tornadoes were sighted simultaneously at both Oklahoma City-Will Rogers World Airport and Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport.

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