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1999-11 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 7, 1999

Iowa Ranks First in Nation for Flood Damage

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 -- Iowans lost an average of about $543 million a year to flood damage from 1983 to 1997 to place the state first out of 51 states and U.S. territories. Louisiana is second with $479 million, and California is third with $377 million in average annual damages. The rankings are from the Extreme Weather Sourcebook created at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The Web site provides quick access to data on the cost of damages from hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes in the United States and its territories. NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

Iowa is tenth for tornado losses

Tornadoes produced $16 million in average annual damages statewide from 1950 to 1995, placing Iowa tenth for tornado losses. Texas suffers the highest costs with $43 million in average yearly losses over the same period. Indiana is second with $36 million, and Kansas is third with average annual losses of $26 million.

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 comparative data for hurricane impacts covers 1925-1995 (based on a study by Pielke and Christopher Landsea of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration); the data 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, a consortium of more than 60 universities offering Ph.D.s in atmospheric and related sciences.

-The End-

See also:
NCAR Societal Aspects of Weather Page
U.S. Weather Research Program
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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 Apr 14 10:38:04 MDT 1999