The cleanup cost for extreme weather events in 2012 makes this year the second most costly in US history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last week. There were 11 natural disasters this year that cost at least $1 billion, The Guardian reports, but damage from Hurricane Sandy and ongoing drought have been the most expensive with Sandy alone expected to hit the $100 billion mark.

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“The 11 billion-dollar events of 2012 include seven severe thunderstorm outbreaks, two hurricanes, the drought and wildfires,” The Guardian reports. NOAA estimates that 349 died as a result. The organization added that the drought which has affected more than half of the lower 48 states is also the worst since the 1930’s dustbowl. And while global warming has exacerbated such extreme weather events, climatologist Jake Crouch with NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) cautions that other socioeconomic factors such as rising population also come into play.

The most expensive year on record since 1980 was 2005, the year that a series of storms, including Hurricane Katrina, slammed the Gulf Coast. While 2012 has been the second most financially expensive year for the United States, 2011 was more devastating in terms of human losses. Tornado season alone accounted for the deaths of 551 people compared to a total death toll of 349 in 2012. NOAA plans to release a more detailed report in the middle of 2013.

Via The Guardian

Images of lightning and dust storm, Shutterstock