Weather disasters hit $35 billion and counting

  Joplin

The weather is costing America a lot of money.

A new report from the National Climatic Data Center shows that in 2011 alone, there have been nine U.S. weather-related disasters that have each caused more than $1 billion in damages. The report estimates these disasters have cost the U.S. $35 billion so far this year.

And we've still got four months left to go.

The most expensive of the 2011 disasters detailed in the report is the series of tornadoes that hit the central and southern states from April 25-30. States affected include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Oklahoma. A total of 305 tornadoes swept through those states, causing total losses greater than $9 billion.

It was also the deadliest disaster. The tornadoes killed 327 people.

Giving the tornadoes a run for their money as the most expensive disaster is the combined drought, heat wave and wild fires (the center is counting those as one single disaster) affecting a large swath of the nation including Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, southern Kansas, western Arkansas and Louisiana this spring and summer.

The center said the total direct losses to agriculture, cattle and structures are worth more than $5 billion as of Aug. 15, but the organization expects that number to go up dramatically.

The report includes a list of billion-dollar disasters going back to 1980. The most expensive? Hurricane Katrina. The center estimates the cost of damages from Katrina at $125 billion, or $145 billion adjusted for inflation.

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Satellite images of Joplin, Mo., before and after the tornado

--Deborah Netburn

Photo: Chrystal Wilcox at her home after it was destroyed when a massive tornado passed through Joplin, Mo., in May. Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images.

 

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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