Eleven weather and climate disasters topped $1 billion in damages in the U.S. in 2012, according to a preliminary count by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Beyond the monetary cost, the disasters were responsible for 349 deaths. The deadliest was Sandy with 131 lives lost. The summer heat wave was second with at least 121 deaths, although the exact number of heat stress deaths is not known.
- Southeast/Ohio Valley Tornadoes — March 2–3 2012; The year’s first billion dollar disaster scourged the U.S. with 75 confirmed tornadoes. (Affected Areas: AL, GA, IN, OH, KY, TN)
- Texas Tornadoes — April 2–3 2012 The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area bore the brunt of 22 confirmed tornadoes.
- Great Plains Tornadoes — April 13–14 2012; Some of the 98 confirmed tornadoes in this outbreak stayed on the ground for tens of miles. (Affected Areas: OK, KS, NE, IA)
- Midwest/Ohio Valley Severe Weather — April 28–May 1 2012; Thirty-eight confirmed tornados whipped the Ohio Valley and Midwest. (Affected Areas: TX, OK, KS, MO, IL, IN, KY)
- Southern Plains/Midwest/Northeast Severe Weather — May 25–30 2012; At least 27 tornados lashed the region. (Affected Areas: TX, OK, KS, MN, PA, NY)
- Rockies/Southwest Severe Weather — June 6–12 2012; Colorado suffered $1 billion in hail damage, while 25 tornados pummeled the region. (Affected Areas: CO, NM, TX)
- Plains/East/Northeast Severe Weather (“Derecho”) — June 29–July 2 2012; “Derecho” means straight in Spanish and this storm was characterized by intense winds blowing in one direction, as opposed to spinning like a tornado. (Affected Areas: IL, IN, KY, OH, WV, SC, NC, VA, MD, DC, NJ).
- Hurricane Isaac — August 26–31 2012; The slow-moving category 1 hurricane made landfall on Louisiana. (Affected Areas: LA, MS, AL, FL)
- Western Wildfires — Summer–Fall, 2012; More than 9.1 million acres burned across the U.S. (Affected Areas: CO, ID, WY, MT, CA, NV, OR, WA)
- Hurricane Sandy — October 29–31 2012; Although the storm had reduced in category from a hurricane by the time it hit the U.S., it still caused tremendous damage due to high winds and storm surge. (Affected Areas: MD, DE, NJ, NY, CT, MA, RI)
- U.S. Drought/Heatwave — throughout 2012; The drought is the most extensive since the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. (Affected Areas: CA, NV, ID, MT, WY, UT, CO, AZ, NM, TX, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, AR, MO, IA, MN, IL, IN, GA)
Aerial views of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast (Mark C. Olsen/U.S. Air Force/New Jersey National Guard, Wikimedia Commons)