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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jeff Masters: Sunday's severe weather outbreak; 5 severe weather outbreaks costing more than $5 billion total

by Jeff Masters, Wunderblog, November 17, 2013

This is just the second "High Risk" forecast for 2013, and the area at risk of severe weather is unusually large. According to a list of all "High Risk" forecasts issued since 1984 maintained at Wikipedia, today's High Risk area is the farthest north such a forecast has been issued so late in the year. 

Figure 1. Prior to Sunday's severe weather outbreak, there were seven billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S. in 2013. Five of these disasters were severe weather outbreaks--the third highest such total in history.

A slow but very expensive tornado season

It's been an unusually slow severe weather season, with the 2013 preliminary tally of 818 tornadoes the lowest year-to-date count since the extreme drought year of 1988. However, when severe weather outbreaks have come, they have been unusually destructive. 

According to Aon Benfield, there have been 5 severe weather outbreaks topping $1 billion in damages this year. This is the third highest number of such disasters on record, going back to 1980. The record is shared by 2011 and 2012, with seven billion-dollar-plus severe weather outbreaks, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. The total damage from 2013's five billion-dollar severe weather outbreaks is $14 billion, which is the third highest on record, behind 2011 ($29.6 billion) and 2010 ($16.3 billion.) The most expensive and deadliest severe weather outbreak of 2013 hit on May 20, when Moore, Oklahoma, was devastated by an EF-5 tornado that killed 23 people and did $2 billion in damage.

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