According to the National Climatic Data Center, Illinois was on the list twice for billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013. In both cases, some damages occurred elsewhere but Illinois took the brunt of the losses. These numbers are based on reports from government agencies, media reports, and insurance industry estimates.
The first was the flooding in the Chicago area in April 2013. I had posts on this event here, here, and here. This event produced an estimated $1 billion in damages and led to 4 deaths. They described it as:
A slow-moving storm system created rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches across northern and central Illinois including the Chicago metro. This resulted in damage to many homes and businesses. There was also severe weather damage from wind and hail across Indiana and Missouri.
The second was the November 17, 2013, tornado outbreak that caused an estimated $1 billion in damages and led to 8 deaths. I wrote about it here, here, here, here, and here. They described it as:
Late-season outbreak of tornadoes and severe weather over the Ohio Valley (IL, IN, MO, OH, KY, MI) with 70 confirmed tornadoes. Most severe impacts occurred across Illinois and Indiana.
3 Replies to “Illinois on List Twice for Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters of 2013”
“The US property catastrophe market has been most adversely exposed, due mainly to a combination of low loss activity and growth in alternative capital. The high level of alternative capital leads us to expect that prices will continue to fall, and that terms and conditions will weaken into 2015 across a wider range of business lines. Market conditions have created a perfect storm for US property catastrophe reinsurers, with current pricing deterioration in this region viewed as the combination of a cyclical soft market and structural change. A reduction in peak-zone windstorm activity has led to a build-up of underwriting capacity, resulting in a soft cyclical market.”
BTW NOAA does a very poor job in evaluating disaster loss from a historical perspective as they do not normalize results. A good example would be the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane which caused $100 million in loss damage. NOAA’s system of historical comparison would only account for inflation CPI adjustment which gives a false impression that climate change is causing more disaster loss.
The economics experts who study climate impacts on loss damage normalize for wealth and population growth in assessing costs to past events. For instance, the 1926 Miami hurricane would cause $150 billion today after normalization factors were applied. We have had nothing close to this sort of loss damage from any single event in recent the modern record. In assessing more recent data and accounting for normalization, we are seeing a decline in damage loss from climate.
I’ve tried my hand at assessing climate and weather impacts in Illinois, and it’s very tough. There are no standard procedures for reporting damages so you end up using things like insured losses or damage estimates. But not all losses are insured. And some damages may show up later. And then there is the issue mention – adjusting past losses to reflect inflation and development. Those are not fool-proof either. As a result, there is a lot of uncertainty in the estimates. One expert, Roger Pielke Jr., maintains that after taking into account all these factors that you can’t use losses as a metric for climate change.