The title for
greatest reaper of catastrophe losses in the United States does not go to the
hurricane, blizzard or ice storm but to the much more common thunderstorm.
Thunderstorms don’t get cute names from The Weather Channel or National Weather Service but severe
thunderstorms surpass their more press-savvy and notorious brethren in wreaking
property damage in the United States.
severe thunderstorms cause an average of $12.4 billion in
insured losses in the United States. By comparison, winter storms cause about $1 billion
in losses each year and hurricanes, the frequency of which vary widely year to
year, average about $6.5billion in damage. In the first half of 2016 alone, severe thunderstorms in
the United States caused about $8.5 billion in insured losses, far more than other natural disasters. Since
tornados extend from thunderstorms, industry trackers often group them together
for statistical purposes.
small, short-lived storms pepper the planet at an astounding rate. The sheer
number of thunderstorms is mind-boggling. Over 100,000 thunderstorms occur each
year in the United States, 10,000 of which are classified as severe.Severe thunderstorms produce
wind gusts of 58 mph or higher, large hail at least an inch in diameter, or
are over 40,000 thunderstorms a day. That means that there are nearly 2,000 thunderstorms occurring on Earth at any one time!
As we know,
thunderstorms can bring a nasty arsenal:high winds, torrential rainfall which can lead to flash floods, hail,
and of course, thunder and lightning.
strikes from thunderstorms start over 24,000 fires a year in the United States, including 4400 house fires. Wildfires often start by
lightning. As an interesting side note, scientists have discovered that
lightning is essential to maintain the electrical balance between the earth’s
surface and its atmosphere. Without lightening, this electrical balance would
apparently disappear in five minutes.
are most common in the spring and summer months but can occur any time of
year.Even winter storms occasionally
bring thunderstorms which has led to the moniker, thunder snow.
occur in every part of the United States and nearly every region in the
world.Florida, along the Gulf Coast, gets hit the most in the United States, but they are prevalent
throughout the Southeast and Midwest.
thunderstorms have been increasing in recent years, which probably reflects the
growth in population and economic development in the parts of the country that
see the most thunderstorms. Of course, the more property in its path, the more
damage a severe thunderstorm is likely to inflict.As development expands, insured losses from
thunderstorms will continue to rise.