30 October 2012

Sandy and the Top 20 Normalized US Hurricane Losses

UPDATE #4 13 Feb 2013: Yesterday the NHC issued its final report on Hurricane Sandy, and includes $50 billion as the total US damages from Sandy, which would place it 7th in the table below.

UPDATE #3 11/24: There is still a lot of uncertainty in Sandy damage estimates. PCS, which tabulates actual insured losses, has released a first estimate of $11 billion in insured losses. This is at the low end of the range, bu is very likely to rise. How far? We'll have to wait for that. Once better numbers are in, I'll do a new post with apples to apples numbers from Sandy to compare to our normalized tabulation.

UPDATE #2 11/1: Moody's has published an estimate of $30 billion in direct total damages due to Sandy. That would place Sandy at #10 all time in the normalization table below.

UPDATE 11/1: EQECAT has published updated estimates of Sandy's losses today, $10-20 billion insured and $30-50B total. Depending on the amount of flood damage include in the total (the NWS hurricane losses separate out flood) the new estimates, if they hold up near the high end of the range, would push Sandy into the top 10 all-time losses in the normalization table below.

Here is a table showing the top 20 hurricane losses 1900 to 2011, normalized to 2012 dollars. In other words, the figures show an estimate of what the losses would be were historical storms to occur in 2012. The numbers come from ICAT based on an extension of Pielke et al. 2008.

Great Miami Sep 18,1926 1 180,220,000,000
Galveston Sep 08,1900 2 105,570,000,000
Galveston Aug 17,1915 3 84,910,000,000
Katrina Aug 29,2005 4 84,620,000,000
Andrew Aug 24,1992 5 64,410,000,000
Storm 11 in 1944 Oct 19,1944 6 53,940,000,000
Donna Sep 10,1960 7 49,810,000,000
New England Sep 21,1938 8 46,840,000,000
Lake Okeechobee Sep 16,1928 9 44,890,000,000
Wilma Oct 24,2005 10 25,960,000,000
Hazel Oct 18,1954 11 24,260,000,000
Diane Aug 19,1955 12 24,110,000,000
Camille Aug 17,1969 13 23,040,000,000
Charley Aug 13,2004 14 20,380,000,000
Ike Sep 13,2008 15 20,370,000,000
Hugo Sep 21,1989 16 20,020,000,000
Carol Aug 31,1954 17 19,290,000,000
Agnes Jun 22,1972 18 19,010,000,000
Ivan Sep 16,2004 19 18,590,000,000
Storm 2 in 1949 Aug 26,1949 20 18,510,000,000

While it will be some time until we have apples to apples estimates from Sandy, the current estimates of $20 billion would place Sandy at #17 all time out of 242 loss-producng storms 1900 to present (in the top 10%). If the damage gets to $30 billion it would crack the top 10 and (top 5%). Right now it seems unlikely that Sandy will climb any higher on the table. (Note that inland flood damage is not included in the tabulations above.)

In historical context, Sandy sits alongside Carol, Diane and Hazel. One big difference however -- Carol, Diane and Hazel hit the US Atlantic coast within a single 13 month period in 1954-1955.  Imagine that.