Historical data on weather extremes and their effects on the nation's economy since the 1940s were assessed to develop annual measures of nationwide losses and to assess their temporal behavior. Trends were upward for certain key hazards during 1950-1997 including losses associated with winter storms, floods, and crops and for the incidence of heavy rains. Trends were downward for energy costs and for losses from hurricanes, thunderstorms, and windstorms. Nine loss measures were used to calculate the nation's annual loss values for 1950-1997, and their order, based on magnitude, are energy costs, followed by losses from hurricanes, floods, severe thunderstorms, excessive moisture and temperature on crops, tornadoes, winter storms, hail, and windstorms. These variables will also be available in future years to allow continuing assessments. The 48-year average annual loss value was $17.47 billion (1997 dollars) with a 1-year maximum of $54.4 billion in 1972 and a minimum of $2.4 billion in 1963. The 48-year trend of losses was essentially unchanging with three notable high loss periods: 1951-1955, 1970-1974, and 1990-1994.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-123
Number of pages11
JournalNatural Hazards Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Social Sciences


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