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1999-9 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 1999

Floods Cost Coloradans Far More than Tornadoes; State Fares Better than Most

David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
Fax: (303) 497-8610
E-mail: hosansky@ucar.edu

BOULDER -- Coloradans lost an average of about $37 million a year to flood damage from 1983 to 1997, while tornadoes cost state residents about $1 million per year from 1950 through 1994, according to the Extreme Weather Sourcebook. The Web site, created at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), provides quick access to data on the cost of damages from hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes in the United States and its territories.

Colorado ranks 29th in flood losses, 30th for tornadoes

The $37 million in average annual flood losses place Colorado 29th out of 51 states and territories. Number 1-ranked Iowa suffers about $543 million in damages per year. In 1997, the year of the Fort Collins flood, Colorado flood losses reached $360 million, the highest in the 14-year period.

Colorado places 30th for tornado damage with $1 million in average annual costs. Texas is first with $43 million in average yearly losses.

The Web site reports decades of information in constant 1997 dollars, simplifying comparisons among extreme-weather impacts and among states or regions. The Sourcebook allows relative comparisons of where a region or state stands in the national picture.

"The dollar amounts we're reporting are approximate and are most useful in comparing states and regions," says political scientist Roger Pielke, Jr., who led the NCAR team that built the site. He also warns that historical costs cannot predict what future damages might be. "We created the site to spur investigation into the impacts of extreme weather events on society," he adds.

The Sourcebook was partially funded by the U.S. Weather Research Program (USWRP), a federal program focused on improving predictions and their use by decision makers.

Sourcebook data

The data for hurricane impacts covers 1925-1995 (based on a study by Pielke and Christopher Landsea of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration); for tornadoes, 1960-1994 (based on a database maintained by the Storm Prediction Center); and for floods, 1983-1996 (based on data published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). The flood and tornado data were updated to 1997 dollar values using the Gross National Product Implicit Price Deflator, which is published annually by the White House. The hurricane data were normalized to 1997 values by adjusting for growth in population and wealth, in addition to inflation.

NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.

-The End-

See also:
NCAR Societal Aspects of Weather Page
U.S. Weather Research Program
Colorado floodplain facts
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The National Center for Atmospheric Research and UCAR Office of Programs are operated by UCAR under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation and other agencies. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any of UCAR's sponsors. UCAR is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.
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Last revised: Fri Apr 7 15:38:50 MDT 2000
Last revised: Wed Mar 24 15:32:25 MST 1999