The Heat Is Online

US Hit by 42 $1 Billion-plus Loss Events in 20 Years

Reuters News Service, Aug. 6, 1999

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has been hit with 42 weather-related disasters over the past two decades, each with damages of $1 billion or more, according to the federal government.

The following list, prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's national climate data center, shows some of the most costly weather disasters since 1988:

Drought/Heat Wave - Summer 1988 - $40 billion Central and Eastern U.S.; estimated 5,000 to 10,000 deaths (includes heat stress-related)

Hurricane Andrew - August 1992 - $27 billion; Severe hurricane hits Florida and Louisiana; 58 deaths.

Midwest Flooding - Summer 1993 - $21 billion;Severe, widespread flooding in Central U.S.; 48 deaths.

Drought/Heat Wave - June-September 1980 - $20 billion;Central and Eastern U.S.; estimated 10,000 deaths (includes heat stress-related).

Hurricane Hugo - September 1989 - $9 billion;;Severe hurricane devastates South and North Carolina after hitting Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; 86 deaths.

Southern Drought - Summer 1998 - $6 to $9 billion; Severe drought and heat wave from Texas/Oklahoma eastward to the Carolinas; at least 200 deaths.

Southern Flooding - May 1995 - $5 to $6 billion; Torrential rains and tornadoes across Texas, Oklahoma, southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, 32 deaths.

Hurricane Fran - September 1996 - $5 billion; Hurricane strikes North Carolina and Virginia; 37 deaths.

Southern Plains Drought - Fall 1995-Summer 1996 - $5 billion; Severe drought in agricultural regions of southern plains with Texas and Oklahoma most severely affected; no deaths.

Storm/Blizzard - March 1993 - $3 to $6 billion; "Storm of the Century'' hits eastern seaboard with tornadoes, high winds, and heavy snows; about 270 deaths.

Hurricane Georges - September 1998 - $5.9 billion; Hurricane strikes Puerto Rico and coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida; 16 deaths.

Northern Plains Flooding - April-May 1997 - $3.7 billion; Severe flooding in Dakotas and Minnesota due to heavy spring snowmelt; 11 deaths.

Hurricane Alicia - August 1983 - $3 billion; Severe hurricane in Texas; 21 deaths.

West Coast Flooding - Dec 1996-Jan 1997 - $3 billion; Torrential rains and snowmelt flood portions of California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and Montana; 36 deaths.

Blizzard of '96 - January 1996 - $3 billion; Snowstorm over Appalachians, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast; followed by severe flooding due to snowmelt; 187 deaths.

Hurricane Opal - October 1995 - $3 billion; Hurricane strikes Florida panhandle, Alabama, western Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and the western Carolinas; 27 deaths.

California Flooding - January-March 1995 - $3 billion; Frequent winter storms cause periodic flooding across much of California; 27 deaths.

Southeast Ice Storm - February 1994 - $3 billion; Intense ice storm with extensive damage in portions of TX, OK, AR, LA, MS, AL, TN, GA, SC, NC, and VA; 9 deaths.

Oakland Firestorm - October 1991 - $2.5 billion; Oakland, California firestorm due to low humidities and high winds; 25 deaths.

Hurricane Marilyn - September 1995 - $2.1 billion; Hurricane devastates U.S. Virgin Islands; 13 deaths.

Florida Freeze - December 1983 - $2 billion; Severe freeze central/northern Florida; no deaths.

Drought/Heat Wave - Summer 1993 - $1 billion; Southeastern U.S. states; death toll undetermined.

The agency said damage figures represent actual dollar costs at the time of the event and are not adjusted for inflation.

Insured and uninsured losses are included in damage estimates, and economic costs are included for wide-scale, long-lasting events such as drought.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.