Extreme weather events in 2011 in the U.S. have already matched 2008’s record for most billion dollar weather disasters. If history is any indication, Hurricane Irene will become 2011’s 10th such disaster, putting 2011 in first place by itself, with four months still remaining in the calendar year.
We can reach that conclusion using a tool called the ICAT Damage Estimator, an interactive online tool that provides normalized U.S. hurricane losses. Here’s what the tool tells us about past storms that passed within 50 miles of Irene’s current position and made landfall in the U.S.:
Average damage: ~$12.4 billion
Median damage: ~$4.8 billion
You can experiment with tool at the ICAT website
Of course, if Irene takes a hook wide right and just grazes the coastline, the U.S. would likely be spared such an economic toll. But a storm hugging the coast from the Outer Banks to southern New England is unlikely to.