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Q&A: 11 major disasters in U.S. so far this year

11 major disasters so far in 2012

I remember about a year ago your column had an item about how many disasters there were in 2011. How about 2012?

In 2011, there were 14 billion-dollar storms in the United States, according to Dr. Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground. The worst was the outbreak of tornadoes April 25-28 in the Midwest and Southeast that killed more than 300 people and caused about $9 billion in damage.

There have been 11 billion-dollar incidents so far in 2012, according to a recent blog post by Masters, who cited a Nov. 8 report by insurance broker AON Benfield (Benfield rated 17 events in 2011 as costing more than $1 billion, but the official number was set by the NOAA's National Climatic Data Center). And the worst caused a lot more damage than the tornadoes.

Hurricane Sandy, was a rarity — a late-season storm (Oct. 29) that took direct aim at the densely populated northeastern U.S. coast. It came ashore near the southern tip of New Jersey as a Category 1 storm. Before it was done, almost 200 people had been killed and damages are expected to be somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion.

A second disaster in 2012 also caused more damage to the United States than the 2011 tornadoes. The drought and heat wave that settled in the Midwest around June and lingered through October cost more than $20 billion, Masters wrote.

Third: Tornadoes and severe weather March 2-3 in the Midwest and Southeast that killed 41 and caused more than $4 billion in damage.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends Friday, has been active, with 19 tropical storms, 10 hurricanes and one major hurricane (Category 3 or higher). If no more storms form, 2012 will tie 1887, 1995, 2010 and 2011 as the third-most active season.

The worst was 2005, with 28 named storms. Second was 1933, with 20.

Most hurricanes in a season also came in 2005, with 15; 2012 is tied for eighth with 10.

Soldier a hero for saving child

Earlier this year there was an article about a soldier in Afghanistan who pushed a child out of the way so he would not be run over by a truck, but the soldier lost his life in doing so. Has the family received any recognition, medal or award for this heroic deed?

Dennis Weichel Jr., a member of the Rhode Island National Guard, was posthumously promoted to sergeant, received a Bronze Star and a NATO Service Medal Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon RI Star. He was killed after pushing an Afghan boy out of the way of an armored vehicle in Laghman Province on March 22.

Weichel, 29, had a fiancee, a son and two daughters, the Associated Press reported. Weichel was buried with full military honors at the state Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, R.I., on March 31.

Q&A: 11 major disasters in U.S. so far this year 11/25/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 3:35pm]
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