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Weather & Natural Disasters

The biggest US weather catastrophes of 2016 that cost billions

Residents throw furniture damaged in floods in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Aug. 22, 2016.
Zhang Chaoqun | Xinhua | Getty Images

Hurricane Matthew made landfall Friday morning, hammering the east coast of Florida. The Category 3 storm had already hit the Caribbean, killing hundreds in Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas, and it's not yet known what the human toll will be in the U.S. once it finally passes.

In addition to the human toll, there's also a financial one, and while it's too early to say what kind of dollar value will be attached to the damage, a look at other weather disasters of 2016 tells us that it's likely to be high.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this year has already seen its fair share of weather disasters that have incurred losses and damages of at least $1 billion each. These events have been spread out across the country and have included such phenomena as flooding, tornadoes and hail storms.

The following 10 weather disasters that struck the U.S. this year have price tags of $1 billion or more, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. All data is from the NOAA unless otherwise specified.


Southeast and eastern tornadoes, February 2016

Landon Stanly navigates through a flooded street to his home on August 15, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Between Feb. 22 and Feb. 24, a wide swath of the U.S. was plagued by approximately 50 tornadoes. The states affected crossed regions and time zones, including Alabama, Maryland and Massachusetts.

Fifteen states were hit in all and many of the states, such as Pennsylvania, are not normally associated with tornadoes. In addition to the financial losses, there were 10 fatalities associated with the tornadoes.

Total estimated cost: $1 billion


West Virginia flooding and Ohio Valley tornadoes, June 2016

Lt. Dennis Feazell, of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, rows his boat as he and a co-worker search flooded homes in Rainelle, W. Va., June 25, 2016.
Steve Helber | AP

Heavy downpours caused flash floods throughout West Virginia between June 22 and June 24, devastating homes and killing 23 people. It was the deadliest weather event of 2016 to date.

More than 1,500 bridges and roads were also either destroyed or severely damaged, affecting the state's infrastructure. According to West Virginia state climatologist Kevin Law, it was the third-deadliest flood in the state's history. It also caused several tornadoes, which tore across the Ohio Valley.

Total estimated cost: $1 billion


Houston flooding, April 2016

Louis Marquez carries his dog Dallas through floodwaters after rescuing the dog from his flooded apartment Tuesday, April 19, 2016, in Houston. Storms have dumped more than a foot of rain in the Houston area, flooding dozens of neighborhoods.
David J. Phillip | AP

Houston, Texas and its surrounding suburbs suffered a period of heavy rain that reached 17 inches and caused widespread flooding on April 17 and 18. According to NOAA, it was the most widespread flooding event in the area since Tropical Storm Allison, a full 15 years earlier.

Over 1,000 businesses and homes suffered damage due to the storms, and authorities performed approximately 1,800 dramatic high-water rescues. Eight fatalities were reported.

Total estimated costs: $1.2 billion

Southern severe weather, March 2016

A sedan sits underwater along Shaw Street in Drew, Miss., Friday, March 11, 2016, as floodwaters have affected areas in the Delta.
Rogelio V. Solis | AP

On March 17 and 18, the Arlington and Fort Worth metro regions of Texas were pounded by severe storms and hail. It also affected other parts of the state. It would not be the only major hail storm of the year in Texas.

Louisiana and Mississippi also suffered high-wind damage. According to NOAA, one fatality was reported.

Total estimated costs: $1.2 billion


Texas and Louisiana flooding, March 2016

A car lies submerged in the Tall Timbers subdivision after flooding near Shreveport, Louisiana.
Deputy Josh Cagle | Bossier Sheriff's Office | Reuters

The Sabine River basin on the Texas-Louisiana border suffered widespread flooding from March 8 through March 12. It was the result of sustained, heavy rainfall averaging 15 to 20 inches.

More than 1,000 homes and businesses were destroyed, and five people were killed. However, there had been multiple evacuations and high-water rescues, which likely mitigated much of the loss of life that might have taken place.

Total estimated costs: $1.3 billion


Plains tornadoes, May 2016

A tornado is seen near Dodge City, Kansas on May 24, 2016.
Getty Images

Between May 8 and May 11, the Plains and Central states were battered relentlessly by severe storms and tornadoes. Nine states were affected, including Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The brunt of the damage was suffered by Missouri and Nebraska, and two deaths were reported.

Total estimated costs: $1.6 billion


South/Southeast tornadoes, April 2016

A funnel cloud forms Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Omaha, Neb.
Tim Moore | AP

Between April 26 and May 2, multiple tornadoes raged across the southern and southeastern U.S. Apart from the damage caused by the tornadoes, the outbreak also caused damage thanks to straight-line wind and large hail.

The weather resulted in six fatalities.

Total estimated costs: $1.8 billion


North Texas hail storm, March 2016

A car damaged by a hail storm sits in a parking lot Thursday, March 24, 2016, in Plano, Texas.
LM Otero | AP

A week after the March 17-18 hail storm, another hit north Texas on March 23 and 24. It was also one of the most costly weather events of 2016, but fortunately, no fatalities were reported during this event.

Still, the damage from the storm was extensive, particularly in areas that are heavily populated. These included Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano, which were again battered by strong winds and large hail.

Total estimated costs: $2.1 billion


North Central Texas hail storm, April 2016

In this April 13, 2106, file photo, a worker protects a damaged roof at The Village at Woodlake neighborhood in San Antonio, after a severe hailstorm hit the area the night before.
Jerry Lara | San Antonio Express-News | AP

Just weeks after the March 2016 north Texas hail storms, the region took another beating, with Plano again suffering severe hail damage, alongside such cities as Allen and Frisco.

San Antonio was hit particularly hard, as the National Weather Service reported hail of up to 4.5 inches in diameter. No fatalities were reported, but the NOAA called it "one of the most costly hail events to affect the United States."

Total estimated costs: $3.5 billion


Louisiana flooding, August 2016

A car lies submerged in the Tall Timbers subdivision after flooding near Shreveport, Louisiana.
Deputy Josh Cagle | Bossier Sheriff's Office | Reuters

Between August 12 and August 15, southern Louisiana was hammered by a flood that the NOAA called "historic." The area was flooded with 20 to 30 inches of rain, with the city of Watson receiving just over 31 inches.

These two-day rainfalls have a statistical likelihood of occurring once every 500 years. All told, 13 people were killed, and approximately 50,000 homes, 20,000 businesses and 100,000 vehicles were destroyed, for a total of $10 billion in losses and damages.

NOAA has declared it "the most damaging U.S. flood event since Superstorm Sandy" in 2012.

Total estimated costs: $10 billion