U.S. Had Six Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in the First Half of 2018

Chris Dolce
Published: July 10, 2018

Severe thunderstorms and winter storms contributed to six billion-dollar weather disasters in the United States during the first half of 2018.

The first of those disasters occurred just after the New Year and the most recent one was in early June, according to NOAA's report released Monday. All of them struck east of the Rockies.

The six billion-dollar U.S. weather disasters that have been confirmed so far in 2018.

The total estimated price tag from five of the six disasters is $7.1 billion, and they contributed to 36 deaths.

Four of the six weather disasters were caused by severe thunderstorms. Severe thunderstorms and tropical storms/hurricanes have accounted for the largest number of billion-dollar weather disasters in NOAA's database dating to 1980.

A unique aspect of this year is that two winter weather events caused a billion dollars or more in damage. That's only happened in two other years – 1994 and 1999, according to records dating to 1980.

1. Eastern Winter Storm, Jan. 3-5

Winter Storm Grayson struck the eastern states just after the New Year, leaving a swath of snow, sleet and freezing rain from northern Florida to Maine.

Blizzard conditions, heavy snow and major coastal flooding walloped the Northeast as Grayson's area of low pressure underwent bombogenesis.

NOAA says the winter storm caused $1.1 billion in damage and killed 22 people.

(RECAP: Grayson's Bombogenesis | South Impacts)

Satellite image of Winter Storm Grayson off the East Coast on Jan. 4, 2018.

2. Northeast Winter Storm, March 1-3

March came in like a lion in the Northeast as Winter Storm Riley pummeled the region with heavy snow, high winds and major coastal flooding.

The high-impact Nor'easter caused widespread damage in the Northeast, according to NOAA. At the height of the storm, more than 2 million lost power.

Riley caused $2.2 billion in damage and killed 9 people.

(RECAP: Winter Storm Riley)

Roads in Scituate, Massachusetts littered with debris from coastal flooding on Saturday, March 3, 2018. (Peter Bonner)

3. Southeast Tornadoes and Severe Weather, March 18-21

Severe thunderstorms ripped through the South in mid-March with tornadoes, destructive straight-line winds and large hail.

A tornado outbreak occurred in northern Alabama on March 19, including an EF3-rated tornado that caused extensive damage in Jacksonville, Alabama.

Total damage from the severe weather was $1.4 billion, encompassing a swath from Texas to Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.

(RECAP: Record-Setting Hailstone in Alabama)

Two cars are turned over in front of a tornado-damaged apartment complex in Jacksonville, Alabama. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

4. Central and Northeast Severe Weather, May 1-4

A storm system advancing from the Great Plains to the Northeast spawned tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and hail in the first four days of May.

Large hail caused significant damage in parts of southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois on May 2. Numerous trees were downed on May 4 across the interior Northeast.

The storms caused $1 billion in damage, but no one was killed.

(PHOTOS: Early May Severe Weather)

Hail damage seen on a house in Janesville, Wis. after a severe storm came through the area Wednesday night, May 2, 2018. (JennaMiddaugh/WISC-TV News 3)

5. Central and Eastern Severe Weather, May 13-15

This three-day bout of severe storms across the central and eastern states featured two widespread wind damage events known as derechos. 

The first derecho struck the mid-Atlantic on May 14, including parts of the Washington, D.C. metro. That was followed up by a second derecho in the Northeast on May 15.

Damage from the severe weather cost an estimated $1.4 billion. Five people were killed by the storms in the Northeast on May 15.

(MORE: Back-to-Back Derechos)

Thunderstorm high wind/wind damage swaths from the May 14 (left) and May 15 (right), 2018 derechos in the East. Each swath exceeded the 248 mile - 400 kilometer - length threshold to qualify as a derecho, per the Ashley and Mote, 2005 study. (Storm reports: NOAA/NWS/SPC)

6. Texas Hail Storm, June 6

Thunderstorms produced hail up to the size of baseballs in the Dallas-Forth Worth metro area in the early morning hours of June 6, damaging homes, businesses and automobiles.

When severe storms produce large hail over a major metro area, it typically results in a hefty price tag since a dense population is affected. 

The exact cost of this particular hail storm is unknown at this time, but NOAA says it will be the sixth billion-dollar weather disaster of 2018.

(MORE: Large Hail Pummels Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex)

Radar loop from 12-3 a.m. CT and storm reports from the Dallas metro hailstorm on June 6, 2018. The white arrow denotes the storm responsible for the most destructive hail. The gray arrow highlights the other storm left over after the initial storm split.


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