August 18, 2011
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a compilation of Billion Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters yesterday. According to the NOAA analysis, the U.S. has sustained 108 weather-related disasters over the past 31+ years in which overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. The total normalized losses for the 108 events exceed $750 billion. Nine $1 billion-plus weather disasters have hit the United States in 2011, tying the record set in 2008. ClimateWire quotes Jack Hayes, the head of NOAA’s National Weather Service, as stating that “it would be difficult to say any one event or season’s worth of events is due to any kind of climate change.” At the same time, Mr. Hayes cited analyses from Munich Reinsurance America, which found that the number of natural disasters has tripled over the past two decades. With respect to the current year, Munich Re states that the "[a]ccumulation of very severe natural catastrophes makes 2011 a year of unprecedented losses."