2011 the most expensive year for natural disasters in history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 02:42 PM GMT em 14 de Julho de 2011

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An exceptional accumulation of very severe natural catastrophes, including earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, tornadoes and flooding in the U.S., and flooding in Australia and New Zealand, make 2011 the highest-ever loss year on record, even after the first half-year, said re-insurance giant Munich Re in a press release this week. The $265 billion in economic losses accumulated this year exceeds the previous record year, 2005, which had $220 billion in damage (mostly due to $125 billion in damage from Hurricane Katrina.) Unlike 2005, this year's losses have been headlined by two huge earthquakes--the March 11 quake in Japan ($210 billion) and the February 22 quake in New Zealand ($20 billion.) But with the Northern Hemisphere's hurricane season just beginning, this year's record losses may see a significant boost from hurricanes.


Figure 1. Stunned survivors survey the destruction left by the EF-4 Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado of April. With a price tag estimated at $2 billion, this was the single most expensive tornado of all-time. The record stood only three weeks, being surpassed by the $3 billion in damage from the Joplin Missouri, tornado. The two tornado outbreaks that spawned these tornadoes rank as the globe's 3rd and 5th most destructive natural disasters so far this year. Image from an anonmous posting to Twitter.

Climate change and damage from weather-related disasters
In an interview with MSNBC, Peter Hoppe, who runs Munich Re's Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Center, said that while the damage trend for earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions is fairly stable, damage from severe weather events is on the upswing, even after factoring in increases in population and wealth. He cited natural events such as La Niña and El Niño as factors in some of the damaging weather events, but added that warming temperatures appear to be adding a layer "on top" of that natural variability. In particular, he noted that the floods this January in Australia--that nation's most expensive natural disaster of all time--occurred when ocean temperatures off the coast were at record warm levels. That meant "more evaporation and higher potential for these extreme downpours", and "it can only be explained by global warming."


Figure 2. The five most expensive natural disasters of 2011, as estimated by Munich Re.

However, the there is a lot of controversy on whether economic losses due to weather-related disasters is increasing due to climate change. A 2010 paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by Netherlands researcher Laurens Bouwer titled, "Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change?", looked at 22 disaster loss studies in various parts of the world. All of the studies showed an increase in damages from weather-related disasters in recent decades. The big question is, how much of this increase in damage was due to increases in population, and the fact people are getting wealthier, and thus have more stuff to get damaged? Fourteen of the 22 studies concluded that there were no trends in damage after correcting for increases in wealth and population, while eight of the studies did find upward trends even after such corrections. In all 22 studies, increases in wealth and population were the "most important drivers for growing disaster losses."

Bouwer's review of these 22 disaster loss studies was critiqued this year by Neville Nicholls of the School of Geography and Environmental Science of Montash University, Australia. His analysis, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, notes that Bouwer's study of damage losses did not include the impact of improvements in building codes and weather forecasting. We can expect both factors to have significantly reduced damages due to storms in recent years. Nicholls concludes, "The absence of an upward trend in normalized losses may be due to a balance between reduced vulnerability (from improved weather forecasting and building techniques) and increased frequency or intensity of weather hazards." In his reply to Nicholls' comments, Bouwer states that Nicholls "provides no support that these factors have actually contributed to a substantial reduction in losses over the period of the last decades."

Jeff Masters

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Quoting nymore:
I noticed that forest fires were added to the natural disasters under climate events. This is a bad metric to figure in to climate events. The fires are apart of the natural process of renewing the forest, the problem is man puts them out there by storing more fuel for the next one. The only things you should maybe try and save is peoples homes other than that they should be allowed to burn naturally. Take Yellowstone Park for example all you heard back them was the forest would be ruined for decades but look what happened. The results are amazing scientists. Also if they are insuring the price of the timber that could really escalate the property damage. Warn climate ( Arizona ) or cool climate ( Alaska ) forests burn naturally. much humans were born to grow up and die, forests are born to grow up and burn. The same goes for grasslands example burn a field of grass next thing you know healthy green grass

Very true. If people didn't build in and very close to forests then people wouldn't die. Here, the Aborigines would light bush fires and grass fires to flush out animals for food. The bush here has grown to be accustomed to bush fires, some plants don't let go of there seeds until there seed pods have been heated by a bush fire. It's call evolution. I think a guy called Darwin wrote a few books about it.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

If that did happen, This blog would be left for people to fight over AGW and trolls. I for sure won't be coming here anymore.


Actually that may clean up the troll problem quite a bit
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Central Atlantic wave deserves mentioning in the next TWO imo.
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT THU JUL 14 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

AN AREA OF DISTURBED WEATHER HAS FORMED OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN
CARIBBEAN SEA. DEVELOPMENT...IF ANY...OF THIS SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO
BE SLOW TO OCCUR AS IT REMAINS NEARLY STATIONARY OR DRIFTS WESTWARD
DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...10
PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.
REGARDLESS OF DEVELOPMENT...LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL IS POSSIBLE OVER
PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AMERICA DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

ELSEHWERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER CANGIALOSI
Member Since: Outubro 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8272
Quoting AussieStorm:

Most big companies will move off-shore likely to China and sell the same products made at a cheaper price and sell for the same or higher price.
Small and medium size businesses will have to choose to either raise there prices to cover the cost of the new tax and make less sales thus decreasing there cash inflow or close down. Imported products won't have much of an increase compared to Australian Made products cause the companies that make those imported products won't have to pay the tax.


Bet you see calls for tariffs on imported goods to "equalize the playing field," then. Wonder how that will play out? The big corporations will probably call it "socialism," since it impacts their profits. I imagine that Australia has "free trade" agreements with everyone, like the US? That would prevent tariffs being levied.
Member Since: Junho 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
I noticed that forest fires were added to the natural disasters under climate events. This is a bad metric to figure in to climate events. The fires are apart of the natural process of renewing the forest, the problem is man puts them out there by storing more fuel for the next one. The only things you should maybe try and save is peoples homes other than that they should be allowed to burn naturally. Take Yellowstone Park for example all you heard back them was the forest would be ruined for decades but look what happened. The results are amazing scientists. Also if they are insuring the price of the timber that could really escalate the property damage. Warm climate ( Arizona ) or cool climate ( Alaska ) forests burn naturally. much as humans were born to grow up and die, forests are born to grow up and burn. The same goes for grasslands example burn a field of grass next thing you know healthy green grass
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When assessing the amount of damage caused by weather, earthquakes should be excluded. Earthquakes are caused by the shifting of the tectonic plates which is the result of mantle convection. Whether or not the climate is changing and whether or not humans are affecting the climate is irrelevant because earthquakes are not caused by the climate.
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Quoting 1911maker:


Thanks for the response.

I wonder if I commented that the US was getting hit by a Cyclone, would the denial ("NO, its a hurricane") from those around me be scientific, or provincial?

When i comment, I comment related on the basin it's in.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I also want to add in a general way that none of the events we are talking about are particularly unprecedented even in our very limited scientific/historical record. I think what caught the Doc's eye was the variety and extent of the damage caused by this year's [to date] events. And it seems we have had quite a number of these daunting events of late; the Haiti earthquake, the heat wave / flood from last year, and the ongoing drought that seems to be setting up in east-central Africa are just a few others. What strikes me more than anything else is that people making decisions about where to live and build their homes don't particularly take into account disaster mitigation. It's why people - millions of them - live in earthquake-prone areas like Japan, New Zealand and California, and why despite the fact that some years tropical cyclones hit the Philippines 4 or 5 times people still live there. You gotta live somewhere...

The question pple in the so-called developed countries need to be asking is not whether the weather is worsening, but whether the people most likely to be impacted by natural disasters [regardless of type] have done as much as is possible to mitigate against those disasters.


You are wise indeed, sir. A proactive approach as opposed to a reactive approach. Thank you, for that.
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Quoting Hurrykane:


Same critter...in fact Hurricanes and Typhoons are Cyclones...they are just called different names based on the part of the world they are born in.


Quoting AussieStorm:

You answered your own question. They are all Cyclones, Just have different names in different basins.


Thanks for the response.

I wonder if I commented that the US was getting hit by a Cyclone, would the denial ("NO, its a hurricane") from those around me be scientific, or provincial?
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Quoting TaylorSelseth:
I am not liking the look of the GFS this morning. An upper level high is developing in the midsection of the country and that is going to bring a week of +90F temperatures and +75F dew points to the Upper Midwest. The GFS has the 25C dew point line going as far north as WINNIPEG!!!

I thought we were supposed to have a cool summer this year.
Not moving towards neutral fast enough.

Quoting twincomanche:
MORE CONTROLS! That's what we need. More regulation! That'll fix everything.
No, but it might keep your roof on in a moderate hurricane or make it harder for a fire to leap from that tree onto your wooden frame house....

Quoting AussieStorm:

IMO I think you need to read this blog again.
I quote "Climate change and damage from weather-related disasters
In an interview with MSNBC, Peter Hoppe, who runs Munich Re's Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Center, said that while the damage trend for earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions is fairly stable, damage from severe weather events is on the upswing, even after factoring in increases in population and wealth. He cited natural events such as La Ni�a and El Ni�o as factors in some of the damaging weather events, but added that warming temperatures appear to be adding a layer "on top" of that natural variability. In particular, he noted that the floods this January in Australia--that nation's most expensive natural disaster of all time--occurred when ocean temperatures off the coast were at record warm levels. That meant "more evaporation and higher potential for these extreme downpours", and "it can only be explained by global warming."
It can be explained.... It's called La Ni�a
Yes... but he was QUOTING somebody. Then he went on to show that 14 of 22 studies said there was no correlation...

Quoting ncstorm:


I didnt say he endorse it, I just say the words were mention which will bring the AGW bloggers out in droves..its like that line in the kevin costner movie..if you build it, they will come, in this case though, if you say it, they will come
Unfortunately, most of the "debate" today has been people contradicting AGW statements that the doc didn't actually make, and me, contradicting pple who said the doc said it... lol...

Maybe we should talk more about the NC blob... lol
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Looking back at Dr. Master's title "..most expensive year.." :
I have been wondering:
1) How can a system calling itself an "Economy" afford to rebuild the damage of just this year to date?
2)How will we deal with the next natural (or man made) disaster?
There is no upper limit to awful possibilities but there are limits to our ability to survive.
Prospering went out the window a while ago even for the few who imagine that.
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LOL! Yeah, I agree
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Skye, my wife sent me a link about this organization that is not only sending solar cookers to places like Afghanistan and Darfur, but showing the locals how to built them themselves. The goal is to stop the deforestation of their areas, and to provide non-polluting methods of feeding themselves. They said that 2 million people a year in the third world die of smoke inhalation-related illnesses, mainly from being in small, cramped huts over open fires all day while cooking.

Here's the solar cooker they teach them to make/send kits for. It's also handy for sanitizing drinking water: http://solarcooking.org/plans/cookit.htm
Member Since: Junho 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
Quoting Hurrykane:


I believe it's gonna enter the Caribbean.

It looks pretty good right now approaching DMin though....
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*sigh* So, random climate-related posts must be on topic...

Well, found this interesting study:
Changes in Sea-Level Pressure over South Korea Associated with High-Speed Solar Wind Events
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.184 1v1.pdf

They explored only the highest speed solar wind events and found a detectible, positive 2.5 hPa sea level pressure anomaly in S. Korea.

What effect would a higher than average solar wind have on global surface temperatures?

(Maybe something, maybe nothing. Is a coherent and respectful discussion possible?)
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Quoting 1911maker:
I have very little knowledge of "tropical weather". Mostly because I am not that interested in it. I came to the blog to find out info on climate change.

However, I do have a tropical weather question......

What is the difference between a:
Hurricane
Cyclone
Typhoon

Same name for the same thing, or do each have some technical differences other then location?


You answered your own question. They are all Cyclones, Just have different names in different basins.
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Quoting kwgirl:
I think your Government is trying to hit businesses where they pay attention, in the pocket book. It is easy to continue doing what you have always been doing. But when it starts costing you more than an alternative that will decrease carbon output, then the business will go the least expensive way. It all comes down to money.

Most big companies will move off-shore likely to China and sell the same products made at a cheaper price and sell for the same or higher price.
Small and medium size businesses will have to choose to either raise there prices to cover the cost of the new tax and make less sales thus decreasing there cash inflow or close down. Imported products won't have much of an increase compared to Australian Made products cause the companies that make those imported products won't have to pay the tax.
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Quoting TaylorSelseth:
Yeah, be we aren't used to it up here, kind of like how you guys go into a pnaic when you get a dusting of snow! :-)


I grew up in Minnesota, no panic here with a dusting of snow! Snowed the first two years I moved to NW Florida, hasn't snowed now though in over 17 years. Of course it hasn't rained much this year, I'm up to a 1/4" of rain since April now!
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I have very little knowledge of "tropical weather". Mostly because I am not that interested in it. I came to the blog to find out info on climate change.

However, I do have a tropical weather question......

What is the difference between a:
Hurricane
Cyclone
Typhoon

Same name for the same thing, or do each have some technical differences other then location?

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Quoting kwgirl:
The tragic part of these weather extremes we are beginning to see in the famine in Africa. When Americans walk into their grocery stores and find very high priced goods, or even still, no goods at all to eat, then maybe the non-believers in GW will wake up. I saw a news report on the drought in Texas and it is scary. Imagine another dust bowl in the grain belt of America. Russia has stopped exporting grain. We may have to do that as well. Then what happens to the starving masses that we have been suppling with food. I guess they just die faster. I know that Australia was badly affected in their farming area. Just think about all that is affected by bad weather extremes and then you might get a hint of what the AGW crowd are worried about. We cannot control the weather, but we can control how we affect our climate. So sad that it has to come to extremes before the guys in power sit up and take notice, just as in the Dustbowl days.

Nice post.

The thing is, some people are still "waiting" on the evidence.
Without "seeing" the evidence.
It's a difficult concept to grasp, that we can indeed affect our Climate.
Especially if one accepts that everything is pre-ordained and someone else is in control of our destiny.

It's a conundrum really.
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Quoting P451:


There should be a scaled version of these lists in terms of impact. A small flood today will out rank that of a biblical flood 50,000 years ago given the increased cost of living and the larger population allowing more individuals to be affected.

While that fits right in with the AGW agenda it's not good science. It projects a false impression that our weather has worsened when in reality it may not have.

It's a situation that will always give the alarmist viewpoint the benefit of the doubt.

If I crashed a car in 1911 and completely totaled it. But today in 2011 a shopping cart dings up a door panel. What was a worse incident?

In the AGW perspective it was today's dinged door over the totaled car from 1911 because "The cost is greater therefore the event was worse."

Well, if this is how we're going to forecast the future of our weather there is no longer anything to talk about.

In 100 years a minor flood's cost is going to easily outweigh a large flood's cost of today.

Did the weather worsen? AGW says yes. Science says no.

The cost and number of people affected by an equal weather phenomena will be higher and higher each year.

What I am after is: Did the weather worsen?

The studies the Doc talked about used "normalized" values, that is, making damages in 2000 comparable to those in 1900 by equalizing the costs of items. As for the bolded comments above, I'm not sure how this can be viewed as a logical argument of any kind. First, you are pitting two things against each other, when one [AGW] is a subset of the other [science]. Don't forget that AGW is merely a scientific theory. On top of that, I think the idea of "worsen" is difficult to qualify in any scientific way, which is why, from the scientific studies mentioned, it doesn't seem to be an issue. So when you ask "Did the weather worsen?" you are asking a very subjective question for which the answer will vary depending on who you ask [and even when you ask].

I also want to add in a general way that none of the events we are talking about are particularly unprecedented even in our very limited scientific/historical record. I think what caught the Doc's eye was the variety and extent of the damage caused by this year's [to date] events. And it seems we have had quite a number of these daunting events of late; the Haiti earthquake, the heat wave / flood from last year, and the ongoing drought that seems to be setting up in east-central Africa are just a few others. What strikes me more than anything else is that people making decisions about where to live and build their homes don't particularly take into account disaster mitigation. It's why people - millions of them - live in earthquake-prone areas like Japan, New Zealand and California, and why despite the fact that some years tropical cyclones hit the Philippines 4 or 5 times people still live there. You gotta live somewhere...

The question pple in the so-called developed countries need to be asking is not whether the weather is worsening, but whether the people most likely to be impacted by natural disasters [regardless of type] have done as much as is possible to mitigate against those disasters.
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162. Skyepony (Mod)
I realize this blog is measuring damage in money alone.. Doing so leaves out another disaster completely, the drought in the Horn of Africa. There doesn't even seem to be a body count. Just stories of many children & elders lost in each family as they make the trek out, with many more dying once they make it to camps~ half the Camels died in recent weeks, 12 million+ affected & "fears of death on an epic scale".

Back to the money..amazing it's where it's at considering hurricane season isn't here yet.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

There ain't going to be many of us left by then, we'd all gone hungry and eaten each other by then cause of a Carbon tax which is meant to stop AGW.
I think your Government is trying to hit businesses where they pay attention, in the pocket book. It is easy to continue doing what you have always been doing. But when it starts costing you more than an alternative that will decrease carbon output, then the business will go the least expensive way. It all comes down to money.
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hello all. I know it is supposed to be quiet this time of the year in the Atlantic and GOM, but anyone have any idea when things could start getting active?

All I can say is that ENSO neutral is here and that scares me because all I think about is 2005!!
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Member Since: Abril 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7690
Member Since: Abril 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7690
Quoting Hurrykane:
Starting to display cyclonic turning
Link



Looks like it will have a tough time pulling from the ITCZ with all the deep layer ridging. May just ride the ITCZ into CA.

Member Since: Agosto 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5043
I'm off to bed as it is 3am. I will be watching and will probably Skype into the Barometer Bob Show on at 8pm Est. Catch ya in Storm chat Levi32.
Night all.
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155. txjac
Quoting TaylorSelseth:
Yeah, be we aren't used to it up here, kind of like how you guys go into a pnaic when you get a dusting of snow! :-)


I love it when it snows here ...but we do panic! I grew up with snow and miss it greatly. When it snows here we always get let out of work as no one knows how to drive in it.

I actually had a awesome dream last night and woke up happy until I walked out and saw the pavement was dry
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Member Since: Outubro 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8272
Quoting Torgen:


Well, your editing your post after being proven wrong doesn't work in this case, as Neo quoted the original in post 56 before you went back and changed it:

Quoting AussieStorm:
New Zealand didn't have any Flooding.

So, denialism, and falsifying the "record," in addition to lying about what you claimed, and even changing what the point was (originally "New Zealand didn't have any Flooding." to "this blog is about Multi-billion dollar disaster.")

I edited it again, I hope you approve of the changes :-)
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Just like a broken record! Pardon the pun.LOL
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Quoting 69Viking:


Those of us in the South have been cooking since May, it's about time the Midwest gets in on the action. Now send some of your rain to the South please!
Yeah, be we aren't used to it up here, kind of like how you guys go into a pnaic when you get a dusting of snow! :-)
Member Since: Agosto 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 324
150. 7544
looks like the wave jason posted at 45 west is trying to gain some convection in the middle , also the wave in the caribiean just south of jamica might be something to watch .thats the two areas for todays watch .
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The tragic part of these weather extremes we are beginning to see in the famine in Africa. When Americans walk into their grocery stores and find very high priced goods, or even still, no goods at all to eat, then maybe the non-believers in GW will wake up. I saw a news report on the drought in Texas and it is scary. Imagine another dust bowl in the grain belt of America. Russia has stopped exporting grain. We may have to do that as well. Then what happens to the starving masses that we have been suppling with food. I guess they just die faster. I know that Australia was badly affected in their farming area. Just think about all that is affected by bad weather extremes and then you might get a hint of what the AGW crowd are worried about. We cannot control the weather, but we can control how we affect our climate. So sad that it has to come to extremes before the guys in power sit up and take notice, just as in the Dustbowl days.
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With the year only half complete, 2011 is already costliest year for natural disasters (PDF of MunichRE's Half-Year Review for Stockholders)

Amongst MANY other interesting tidbits, if the SpringTornadoes were combined to be considered as a single event:
It alone would be the 5th most costly weather-related event that has occurred in the US
It alone would be the 9th most costly weather-related event that has occurred in the World.
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Dr Masters will typically post something about Global Warming once a week. Is the right to free speech not the first amendment? Be free to disagree but keep it civil.
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Quoting Waltanater:
Does anyone know why the NHC keeps yellow invest areas when they are 0%?? If it is 0, why bother putting it on the map anyway. Waste of time and resources.



97L is a prime example of just how fast things can change. Yes, it may near 0% but, anything can and regularly does happen in the tropics. Gotta cover the royal hiney.
Member Since: Agosto 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5043
Quoting kellnerp:
Dr. Master's information suggests a number of things:

Places at high risk should be discouraged from putting more lives and wealth at risk
1. Earthquake -- SF and LA in the US should discourage increasing the population or put into place much stricter codes on where to build and what can be built.
2. Weather -- my favorite bugaboo is insuring flood plain building. Whether it is NOLA or in the midwest this is just plain silly. Continued development of coastal areas is another silly thing to do since the global warming thing, if real, is not going to stop on a dime. In tornado prone areas, buildings should be required to have shelters inside. Wild fire prone areas should have a required setback from combustibles to structures or fire proof structures. Using balloon frame houses in a forest and expecting them not to burn down is, well, silly.
Well said, and focuses discussion on where it should be, i.e. mitigation of damage rather than blaming for damage...

I repeat again [for those who missed it in previous years] that homes in the Bahamas have traditionally been built at least 100 yeards inland from the sea. It's why beachfront property was generally available for purchase when the foreigners came here in the 50s. These islands are lowlying, but "hilly" in that they are basically sanddune ridges with the spaces between silted up. So traditionally people tried to get their houses on the side or top of a hill, someplace where the worse of the flooding was likely to be avoided. People built with what they could afford, but those who could afford stone construction, usually elevated, would always do so.

Nowadays what's foreign is revered and traditions are ignored. I sure hope it's not to our peril.
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Quoting TaylorSelseth:
I am not liking the look of the GFS this morning. An upper level high is developing in the midsection of the country and that is going to bring a week of +90F temperatures and +75F dew points to the Upper Midwest. The GFS has the 25C dew point line going as far north as WINNIPEG!!!

I thought we were supposed to have a cool summer this year.


Those of us in the South have been cooking since May, it's about time the Midwest gets in on the action. Now send some of your rain to the South please!
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Dr. Masters never said the NZ flooding was multi-billion. Or multi-million, for that matter. I'm afraid I'm missing your point

I thought the blog title gave it away about this blog was about Multi-Billion Dollar Disasters
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Quoting CarolinaJim:

"If you don't stand up for something, you'll fall for anything."

That one is for you, Mike.

Try refraining from attacking others from disagreeing with you, and your voice will be heard.
please edit your quote from me, as i basically immediately edited mine lacking a removal option... my initial reactionary statement had a flaw, he had 'contributed', and i'll take it as the 'balance' i sought seeking no communication debacle to follow.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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