USA’s winter weather damage cost at $5 billion so far – USA TODAY

Posted: Saturday, March 08, 2014

With close to $5 billion in damages — so far — the USA’s damage total from the fierce winter of 2013-14 is about $2 billion above average, according to data from Aon Benfield, a global reinsurance firm based in London.

“This has been a rather costly and eventful year for winter weather events in the United States,” said Aon Benfield meteorologist and senior scientist Steve Bowen. “The current tally of economic damages is beginning to approach $5 billion, with assessments from recent storms still ongoing,” he said in an e-mail.

These totals cover just the physical damages sustained from the winter storm events, including homes, businesses, infrastructure, and agriculture, etc., he adds. It does not include travel and transportation losses or other business disruption, however, which are likely to run into the “billions of dollars.”

Lost flights alone have already cost airlines, airports and passengers an estimated $5.8 billion, according to a report released earlier this week by masFlight, an analytical group that studies aviation operations.

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Also, while the $5 billion damage total is above the recent 10-year average and the highest since 2010-11, it does not rank as one of the costliest on record:

“In modern times, 1993 remains the standard given the enormity of the ‘Storm of the Century’ in March of that year, which caused $9 billion in damage alone,” Bowen said.

In February alone, a series of winter storms brought heavy snowfall, sleet, freezing rain, ice, gusty winds, and bitterly cold Arctic air. Two of the biggest storms killed at least 34 people and caused an estimated $750 million in damages.

But despite the unusually high damage costs this winter, it pales in comparison to the costs of disasters such as 2012’s Hurricane Sandy (with a cost of $65 billion) and that year’s Midwest/Plains drought ($35 billion), according to Aon Benfield data.

Final national weather data about how cold and snowy the winter of 2013-14 actually was (meteorologists define winter as the months of December, January and February) will be released by the National Climatic Data Center next Thursday.



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