2011: The year of living extreme

Eve Troeh Dec 26, 2011

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.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.