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2011: The year of living extreme

2011 will go down as the year with the most extreme, most devastating weather, ever. Here, rescue workers search through debris in the devastated town of Hueytown, Alabama, on May 1, 2011, after the second-worst tornado disaster on record.

Adriene Hill: Some people wound up with a white Christmas this year, but for many it's been all brown. Snowfall has been tough to come by and that's not the only weather weirdness. 2011 has been a record-breaking year for extreme weather in the U.S.

From the Marketplace sustainability desk, Eve Troeh recaps the disasters and tallies the cost.


Eve Troeh: The weather in 2011 often seemed out of place. A Nor-easter in Atlanta? Hurricane winds in Vermont? Killer tornadoes in Alabama?

Add that to worse-than-expected floods, tornadoes and wildfires in the usual places, and you get a record economic hit.

Bob Hartwig: We're looking at approximately $35 billion in insured catastrophe losses.

Bob Hartwig at the Insurance Information Institute says companies would've paid more if the disasters had been double-whammys.

Hartwig: You cited the wildfires in Texas, but at the same time there were very few fires in California. We had a hurricane in the northeast, but we didn't have one in Florida.

But he says extreme weather and cost is on the rise overall.

Kevin Kennedy with the World Resources Institute says that's climate change in action.

Kevin Kennedy: It's not just some small temperature increase over few decades. It really is a disruption of the normal weather pattern that means unpredictability and very real risk.

Risk that we all pay for, eventually.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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