Colorado flooding - one of 2013's few "Billion Dollar Disasters" - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Colorado flooding - one of 2013's few "Billion Dollar Disasters"

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BOULDER, Colorado -

In general, we've had a pretty good year, when it comes to avoiding major disasters in the United States, at least compared to recent years.

It has been a year with an unusually small number of tornadoes, and the hurricane season has been relatively tame.

However, as in any year, weather catastrophes do occur, as we saw in Colorado earlier this month, when more than a foot of rain fell in some communities in just two or three days.

Damages are expected to exceed a billion dollars.

From more than 19,000 homes that were damaged to 200 miles of state highways and more than 50 bridges washed away, the price tag is enormous.

But the positive news is that the death toll wasn't worse -- 1,750 people were reportedly rescued, along with 300 pets.

This will likely be our nation's most recent billion-dollar disaster.

Since 1980, we have averaged 4.4 of these each year in the United States.

The record number, not accounting for inflation, was in 2005, when we had 14 separate "billion dollar disasters" in the United States.

That was the year of Katrina, and it was the most active hurricane season in the Satellite Era.

Last year had the second-greatest number of "billion dollar disasters", including the drought, and Superstorm Sandy.

This year is very different.

The official list won't be released until next year, but so far, it appears that we've only had a small number of true 'billion dollar disasters'.

A severe weather outbreak on March 18th yielded 60,000 insurance claims in the deep south, hitting Mississippi the hardest.

The Moore, Oklahoma tornado will likely make the list.

And this month's devastating flooding in Colorado is also very likely to be listed.

Two other storms will be close to hitting the one billion dollar mark: a winter storm in late February, and a round of severe weather in the Plains in early August. 

Keep in mind, however, that "billion dollar disasters" are more likely now than ever before.

Inflation and expensive real estate in coastal communities (and beyond) dramatically boosts the statistics in the new millennium.

The billion dollar benchmark is much more attainable for more and more storms as we step into the future, due to inflation and economics.

13abc spoke with the National Climatic Data Center today, and they said there is also some subjectivity to the grouping of multiple events.

For example, drought in the West might be combined with the wildfire in Yosemite National Park and other wildfires, to reach the billion dollar threshold and climb onto the infamous, expensive disaster list.

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