2013 has brought at least six different billion-dollar natural disasters in just five months — and the Atlantic hurricane season hasn’t even opened yet. In the wake of the killer Moore, Oklahoma tornado that hit Monday afternoon, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak said that the insured losses from that disaster alone could exceed $2 billion.
Considering that the NOAA Hurricane Forecast has already predicted an active Atlantic tropical storm season this year, with as many as six hurricanes at Category 3 or higher, then the costs could really mount up.
The single most expensive natural disaster that ever occurred in the United States was 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which NOAA eventually said cost around $81 billion in total damage. The single most expensive natural disaster of all time is the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, which caused a serious nuclear disaster. World Bank priced that disaster at a record-shattering $235 billion.
Besides the Moore F4 or F5 super-tornado, what are the other most expensive natural disasters of 2013? Let’s have a look.
The first billion dollar storm in the United States was the March 18 derecho, a series of severe thunderstorms that dropped damaging hail over a wide area, especially in Mississippi — including its state capital of Jackson, as well as several other population centers.
A terrifying video of the event was posted by Aaron Webb, allowing you to see the baseball sized hailstones that pounded the state:
But early 2013 wasn’t good for anybody. According to The Weather Underground, there were four other billion-dollar natural disasters in the world before March 30.
According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, late January flooding in Australia in the wake of tropical cyclone Oswald caused an estimated $2.4 billion in damage in Australian dollars, which is very roughly $2.5 billion in American dollars. Check out this chilling video of a baby being rescued from the rising flood waters by helicopter:
The news reporter angrily remarked that they had been told a 2011 flood was a “once in a century” event but the flood waters had returned only two years later.
And here is a video montage of the deadly flood which hit Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, a city of 14 million, also in late January. Jeff Masters, owner of The Weather Underground, estimated the damage to the highly populated city at around $3 billion:
The winter which wouldn’t end might have been a laughing matter in the United States, where people poked fun at the hapless groundhog who predicted an early spring.
But it was no joke in Europe, where the coldest March since 1962 hit agricultural and travel interests from Russia to Ireland at an estimated cost of $1.8 billion.
An ongoing drought in China, priced at around $1.7 billion, rounded out the list of disasters for 2013’s first three months. In a cruel irony, the worst drought in China in 50 years was then broken by killing floods:
And, of course, no video roundup of 2013’s billion-dollar natural disasters would be complete without the Moore tornado. Here is a video caught by tornado chasers, who believe it will be considered a true F5:
Guys, don’t try this at home. Like most Hurricane Katrina survivors, I don’t run toward storms. I run the other way and suggest you do the same. In any event, with June 1 rolling around, it’s time to get prepared and stock up on your supplies.
My guess is that the next billion-dollar natural disaster for 2013 will be a hurricane.
[photo of earth during Moore, OK tornado courtesy NASA/NOAA GOES Project, Dennis Chesters]