U.S. Natural Hazards at Record Low in 2013: CoreLogic

CoreLogic report indicates record low of natural hazard events

Detailing the impact of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires and sinkhole events that have occurred over the course of the year in the United States, CoreLogic released its annual Natural Hazard Risk Summary and Analysis. The report, which summarizes property and structure damage, geographic impact and financial repercussions of natural disasters, revealed that 2013 experienced a record low number of natural hazard events.

“Many predicted that 2013 would be a record year of catastrophic destruction,” said Dr. Thomas Jeffery, senior principal scientist for CoreLogic. “The number of natural disasters that typically cause widespread destruction—mainly hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes—were far less than anticipated and [were far less] compared to last year’s record-setting hazard seasons.”

Despite the lows for hurricane, wildfire, and tornado destruction, however, the abnormal sinkhole activity garnered public attention.

“Interestingly, one natural hazard that tends to receive very little attention took center stage in 2013, as three separate sinkhole catastrophes took place in Florida,” Jeffery noted. “Though massive damage and loss of life from sinkholes is uncommon, this year’s events were large enough to draw significant media coverage, raising public awareness of the true risk associated with this often-overlooked hazard.”

The report analyzes the impact of disasters that have occurred throughout 2013 and also provides a summary of potential risk for the upcoming year.

“Going into 2014, it’s important to remember that hazard driven property damage and loss can, and does, occur each year, and with the cynical nature of some of these events, this year should be considered a fair warning that next year will likely see a return to the higher average numbers and damaging natural disasters,” Jeffery said.

Click through the following slides for the report’s key findings.

Read the full report here.

Hurricanes

Compared to last year’s brutal hurricane season, including, of course, Hurricane Sandy, there was little hurricane activity in 2013.

Only 13 storms were named, with just two reaching hurricane classification. None of these storms had a direct impact on the United States, resulting in relatively minor damage.

Overall, hurricane totals were ultimately lower than pre-season predictions and disproportionally lower than hurricane seasons of the past. Hurricane Humberto, the first official hurricane of the year, also nearly set the record for the latest formation of the season’s first hurricane—being shy by just three hours.

Floods

The low number of storms in the Atlantic also resulted in relatively moderate flooding.

The most significant flooding event was in Boulder, Colo. in September. Resulting in the destruction or damage of more than 19,000 homes across 17 counties, precipitation from the storm reached record-setting levels.

CoreLogic predicts that national flood losses for 2013 will total approximately $2 billion.

Tornadoes

Despite severe storms across the Midwest, total tornado activity in 2013 hit a historic low.

However, a violent wave of activity late-season resulted in severe storms in Oklahoma and other Midwest states. The widest tornado ever recorded struck El Reno, Okla. in early June, measuring 2.6 miles at its widest point, and on May 20, and EF5 tornado swept through Moore, Okla. Creating a 17-mile path, the storm killed 23 people, injuring 337 others and resulted in approximately $2 billion in damages.

Wildfires

The total acreage burned as well as the total number of wildfires in 2013 were both lower than the 10-year average, according to the CoreLogic report. Excluding California, Colorado, Washington and Idaho, which maintained at average levels, Western states generally saw lower wildfire activity than usual.

However, individual fires caused massive destruction. 8,400 acres and 129 homes were destroyed in Arizona’s Yarnell Hill Fire, and 14,000 acres burned in Colorado’s Black Forest Fire, resulting in the destruction or damage of more than 500 homes and exceeding $300 million in losses.

A California fire set records, becoming the third largest in the state’s history. The Rim Fire, which destroyed more than 257,000 acres, including much of the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park, occurred approximately 100 miles east of San Francisco.

Experts indicate that there is potential for increased wildfire risk in 2014, with persisting drought conditions in the west and increase in fuel load in wildfire areas.

 

Sinkholes

A flurry of sinkhole activity in Florida garnered public attention over the last year. Three notable sinkholes occurred within the last year in Seffner, Clermont and Dunedin, Fla.

CoreLogic’s sinkhole database recognizes 23,000 identified sinkholes, which indicates that sinkhole activity will most likely continue to be a substantial risk across the nation, particularly in the sunshine state.

 

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