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Daryl Ritchison, WDAY, Published February 09 2013

Weather Talk: Weather events increase in cost but not in number

There have been many news stories in recent years claiming that so-called billion-dollar weather disasters have dramatically increased in the past 30 years.

A recent peer-reviewed paper from NOAA puts these claims into perspective. Although the study indicated that billion-dollar disasters have increased by about 5 percent per year since 1980, there was no trend in economic loss from individual disasters. In other words, they found more events that exceeded the billion-dollar level but not more severe events. The paper warns that the billion-dollar threshold often mentioned does not take into account, in particular, the increasing values of crops, nor the trends in increasing yields that can highly inflate recent disasters over those from the past.

The analysis in the research showed that drought has actually decreased and there has been no increase in thunderstorm damage. Also, there are no long-term trends in normalized hurricane losses. The keyword here is normalized, or the equalization of all economic parameters in the evaluation of recent weather disasters.

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