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Extreme weather increasing most drastically in North America -- report

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012

The number of natural disasters has been rising dramatically on all continents since 1980, but most drastically in North America, according to a study by the world's largest reinsurance firm.

"North America is the continent with the largest increases in disasters," said Munich Re's Peter Roder. The study links the increase in hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, searing heat and drought to climate change. Insured losses in the United States from thunderstorms alone in 2011 were an estimated $26 billion, the highest on record and double the previous record in 2010.

Global losses from disasters averaged $9 billion a year in the 1980s but soared to an average of $36 billion a year in the 2000s.

The costliest disasters in the United States since 1980 as defined by insured losses were Hurricane Katrina in 2005, costing $62 billion, and Hurricane Ike in 2008, which cost $18 billion.

Clifford Mass of the University of Washington said population-adjusted data show no increased costs from extreme weather.

However, Roder said even adjusting for population and property values yields increased costs (Doyle Rice, USA Today, Oct. 10). -- RE

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500


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