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By Matt Daniel | Earth Sky
According to NOAA, 2012 brought the United States 11 billion-dollar extreme weather and climate events. Seven of these events were triggered by severe weather and tornadoes, two were hurricane-related, and the other two disasters were brought upon extreme drought across the United States.
Out of all of the U.S. disasters, Superstorm Sandy will become one of the costliest ever to occur within U.S. borders. All of the numbers in this post are preliminary, and they will likely change as we enter the new year and continue to receive more information and better estimates.
However, the National Climatic Data Center(NCDC) is already estimating that 2012 will surpass 2011 ($60.6 billion, CPI-adjusted to 2012 dollars) in terms of aggregate costs for billion-dollar disasters in a single year.
This list of U.S. climate and weather disasters is presented here in chronological order.
This image contrasts the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak with the March 2, 2012 outbreak. As you can see, the early tornado outbreak in March 2012 did not match the later-season outbreak of 2011. Of course … it was only March 2.
The most violent and deadliest tornado outbreak of 2012 occurred in early March as a strong area of low pressure evolved across the eastern United States. At least 75 tornadoes were confirmed across the states of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio.
This deadly outbreak caused the deaths of 42 people. The event is estimated to cost around $4 billion in damages. This outbreak was unusual in that it occurred so early in the year. Severe weather outbreaks do typically occur in the deep South in early March. However, the Midwest and Ohio River Valley were also included in the March 2012 severe weather outbreak, which meant extremely warm temperatures and higher dew points pushed that far north in latitude in March 2012.
An outbreak of tornadoes occurred across the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area in early April 2012.
During this outbreak, several moderate strength tornadoes (EF-2 and EF-3) affected towns and neighborhoods in this area with a total of 22 confirmed tornadoes. Fortunately, there were no deaths from this event.
Damage is estimated around $1.3 billion. Some of the hardest-hit areas included the cities of Kennedale, Arlington, Lancaster, Dallas, and Forney. Similar to the March 2-3, 2012 tornado outbreak, this early April round of severe weather was considered to occur slightly early in the season.
Typically, severe weather season ramps up in May and June. A lot of the damage was caused by large hail striking homes and property. In fact, one hailstorm resulted in 100 damaged airplanes in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.
EF-3 tornado that killed six people in Woodward, Oklahoma on April 14, 2012. Image via News 9 KDTV
The third billion-dollar disaster of 2012 occurred in the Great Plains with a large tornado outbreak. The Storm Prediction Center saw this extreme weather event days in advance, and issued a rare high-risk area warning across the Great Plains, including Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa.
The April 13-14 outbreak produced 98 confirmed tornadoes and included many tornadoes that remained on the ground for an extended time and traveled tens of miles. This outbreak killed six people, with the majority of those people dying in Woodward, Oklahoma. This disaster is responsible for nearly $2 billion in damages.
4) Midwest/Ohio Valley Severe Weather — April 28–May 1, 2012
Severe weather over the Midwest and Ohio Valley resulted in 38 confirmed tornadoes. Damage occurred in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. Most of the damage that occurred was due to large hail that caused roof damage in these areas. Damage costs are estimated at around $4 billion. One death resulted from this outbreak of severe weather.
5) Southern Plains/Midwest/Northeast Severe Weather — May 25–30, 2012
Severe storms occurred over the Southern Plains, Midwest and Northeast with 27 confirmed tornadoes. The storms pushed through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New York. Most of these storms produced significant damage due to strong winds over 60 miles per hour nad large hail. These storms are estimated to have cost approximately $2.5 billion and killed one person.
6) Rockies/Southwest Severe Weather — June 6–12, 2012
A series of storms erupted and struck portions of the Rockies and southwestern United States between June 6-12, 2012. Severe storms that contained damaging hail occurred over several states that included Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. During this outbreak of severe storms, there was a total of 25 confirmed tornadoes across the region. Colorado experienced over $1 billion in damage due to hail alone. All together, this series of storms is estimated to have cost approximately $3 billion in damages.
Shelf cloud from the developing derecho in Chicago on June 29, 2012. Image via NWS Meteorologist Samuel Shea.
This was the event that made the term “derecho” famous in 2012. A derecho is a violent storm system that can produce widespread wind damage across a large area and is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers and thunderstorms.
In late June 2012, a derecho pushed through parts of Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland and parts of New Jersey. This storm brought widespread wind damage that left millions of people without power. For many places, it took over a week to restore power. These severe storms left 28 people dead. As of now, damages are estimated to fall around $4 billion from this one event.
Early on August 29, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi-NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of Hurricane Isaac and the cities near the Gulf Coast of the United States. The image was acquired at 1:57 a.m. local time by the VIIRS “day-night band,” which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses light intensification to enable the detection of dim signals. In this case, the clouds of Isaac were lit by moonlight. Image Credit: NASA
Hurricane Isaac, the 9th named storm and 4th hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, caused plenty of problems across portions of Hispaniola and the United States during the last week of August. Isaac was a potent rainmaker, and resulted in flooding across the U.S. Southeast as it pushed into Louisiana and then pushed northward into Arkansas and Tennessee.
Isaac was a large Category 1 storm that moved very slowly, resulting in a large storm surge and flash flooding. Severe damage was reported in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Isaac killed nearly 40 people and is estimated to have cost $2 to $3 billion in damages.
The city of Colorado Springs, Colorado battled a spreading wildfire for many days in summer 2012. Image via twitter/twitpic@DanCMos
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