Extreme weather events and costs

Tropical cyclone Yasi - MODIS satellite image
Tropical cyclone Yasi – MODIS satellite image

Cyclone Yasi, NASA Modis Rapid Response

Extreme weather events and costs associated with climate change are occurring across the world.


  • Deadly tornadoes swept across the US midwest for the second time in a month on May 23, causing damage from Wisconsin to Texas and killing at least 91 people. In Joplin, Missouri, 89 people were confirmed dead, but authorities warned that the death toll could climb as search and rescuers continued their work.[1] The twister cut a path nearly 10 kilometres long and more than 800 metres wide through the centre of town. A state of emergency was declared.
  • A storm system with more than 160 tornados in 24 hours wreaks havoc across six US States with Alabama bearing the brunt. Over 350 people are killed in the second-deadliest tornado outbreak in American history. In addition, 1,730 people in the state were either hospitalised or injured while eight others were listed as missing. The first estimates indicated the tornadoes could result in between $US2 billion and $US5 billion in insurance costs. Whole communities were ripped apart. [2]
  • Tropical Cyclone Carlos lashed Darwin on 15-16 February 2011. 400 millimetres of rain fell in 24 hours and winds in excess of 100 kilometres per hour knocked down trees and powerlines across the city.[3]. Main roads have been cut by floodwaters and a 6.6-metre high tide is expected later Wednesday.
  • On 4 February 2011, bitterly cold temperatures set in across the United States following a massive storm which dumped snow, ice and sleet over a 3,000-kilometre stretch from Texas to Maine. The storm – one of the largest since the 1950s – killed dozens and affected around 100 million people.[4]
  • Tropical Cyclone Yasi smashed the north Queensland coast on 3 February 2011, causing damage with estimated costs in excess of AUS$4b
  • A national Flood levy is flagged for Australia to cover costs of the 2011 Australian floods estimated to be in excess of AUS $5b


  • The cost of rebuilding Pakistan after its devastating 2010 floods could exceed $10 to $15 billion. These floods have affected 20 million people.[5]



  • The price of saving London from floods could exceed £20 billion[6]
  • The 2007 Newcastle floods damage bill topped AUS$1 billion, larger than either the (1999) Sydney hailstorm or the (1989) Newcastle earthquake[7]
  • An AUS$10 billion national water management plan is required for the Murray Darling river system[8]
  • AUS$4.9 billion water plan for Victoria, including construction of the world’s largest desalination plant, with household water bills to double over next 5 years[9]
  • US$150 to 200 billion total economic impact to Louisiana and Mississippi by Hurricane Katrina[10]
  • AUS$20 to AUS$40 million just to rebuild the roads and bridges after the 2007 Gippsland flood.[11]


  1. Deadly twisters claim 91 lives in US midwest, The Age, May 24, 2011
  2. Survivors recount US tornado terror, ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  3. Cyclone lashes Darwin but shelters stay shut, ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  4. Dozens dead in US snow storms, ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  5. Rebuilding after Pakistan floods could reach $15 bln, Reuters
  6. UK News, The Observer, Sunday June 10, 2007
  7. Moriss Iemma, The Age, 18 June 2007
  8. Sydney Morning Herald, January 25, 2007
  9. The Age, June 19, 2007
  10. MNBC & Associated Press, September 10, 2005
  11. ABC News, July 3, 2007