$188 Billion Price Tag: Extreme Weather From 2011 To 2012

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$188 Billion Price Tag: Extreme Weather From 2011 To 2012

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Posted February 15, 2013

Keywords: Climate, Environmental Policy, Environment, News

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By Daniel J. Weiss and Jackie Weidman

The United States was subjected to many severe climate-related extreme weather over the past two years. In 2011 there were 14 extreme weather events — floods, drought, storms, and wildfires — that each caused at least $1 billion in damage. There were another 11 such disasters in 2012. Most of these extreme weather events reflect part of the unpaid bill from climate change — a tab that will only grow over time.

CAP recently documented the human and economic toll from these devastating events in our November 2012 report “Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower- Income Americans.” Since the release of that report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has updated its list of “billion-dollar”-damage weather events for 2012, bringing the two-year total to 25 incidents.

From 2011 to 2012 these 25 “billion-dollar damage” weather events in the United States are estimated to have caused up to $188 billion in total damage. [1] The two costliest events were the September 2012 drought — the worst drought in half a century, which baked nearly two-thirds of the continental United States — and superstorm Sandy, which battered the northeast coast in late October 2012. The four recently added disastrous weather events were severe tornadoes and thunderstorms.

Here is an update of vital extreme weather event data after the addition of these four events:
•67 percent of U.S. counties and 43 states were affected by “billion-dollar damage” extreme weather events in 2011 and 2012.
•1,107 fatalities resulted from these 25 extreme weather events in 2011 and 2012.
•Up to $188 billion in damage was caused by these severe weather events in 2011 and 2012.
•$50,346.58 was the average household income in counties declared a disaster due to these weather events—3 percent below the U.S. median household income of $51,914. [2]
•356 all-time high temperature records were broken in 2012.
•34,008 daily high temperature records were set or tied throughout 2012, compared to just 6,664 daily record lows—a ratio of 5-to-1.
•19 states had their warmest year ever in 2012.

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