Study On Extreme Weather Events

The blogosphere has been abuzz over a report on extreme weather events in the United States released last week by Environment America.

Among the key findings:

– Since 2006, federally declared weather-related disasters in the United States have affected counties housing 242 million people – or roughly four out of five Americans.

– Since 2006, weather-related disasters have been declared in every U.S. state other than South Carolina.

– During this period, weather-related disasters affected every county in 18 states and the District of Columbia. (Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Vermont.)

– More than 15 million Americans live in counties that have averaged one or more weather-related disasters per year since the beginning of 2006. Ten U.S. counties – six in Oklahoma, two in Nebraska, and one each in Missouri and South Dakota – have each experienced 10 or more declared weather-related disasters since 2006.

– More Americans were affected by weather-related disasters during 2011 than in any year since 2004. The number of disasters inflicting more than $1 billion in damage (at least 14) set an all-time record, with total damages from those disasters of at least $55 billion.

It’s  important to note  that private sector insurers paid out $35.9 billion in insured natural catastrophe losses in the United States in 2011, according to an overview recently provided by Munich Re and the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). This was above the 2000 to 2010 average loss of $23.8 billion (in 2011 dollars).

Events included a very active thunderstorm (tornado-hail) season, with insured losses exceeding $25 billion, more than double the previous record, and Hurricane Irene, which caused major flooding in the northeastern U.S.

The I.I.I. also reminds us that U.S. insurers have paid out billions of dollars in catastrophe claims in the past two decades, yet the overwhelming majority remain well-capitalized in 2012.

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