Much of southeastern Texas is underwater. Images of water in homes, roadways that have vanished completely, and more Rain to come. And probably a death toll to rise. It’s horrible. But Houston (and the surrounding areas) isn’t the first city to be flooded so dramatically, and it won’t be the last. There’s change happening with our climate, and people and politicians need to accept that, instead of just pretending it’s an anomaly.
Floods. Droughts. Blizzards. Ridiculously crazy heat waves. They’re happening so often, they’re almost becoming normal now. Let’s revisit some of the weather drama in the US over the last 10 years or so, shall we?
I’m not putting dates on this, because it’s really hard to pinpoint exactly when a drought begins and ends. Let’s settle for saying it was severe and lasted for years.
Midwestern US Flood – August 2007
Over the period August 18-20, 2007, parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin received up to 17 inches of rain, resulting in flash Flooding and mudslides, with 7 people killed and a Damage estimate of over $200 million.
Great Coastal Gale of December 2007
This one affected Washington State, Oregon, and British Columbia. Hurricane-force winds and flooding rains, with 18 people killed. Over $1 billion in damage.
Midwest Flooding – June 2008
Months of excessive rain triggered massive flooding through the entire Midwest, after levees failed. Not just one event, the flooding continued through almost all of June. 16 people died. Over $6 billion in damage.
Tornado Outbreak – May-June 2008
The first outbreak actually occurred over several states, May 7-15, 2008. 147 tornadoes were confirmed, doing over $250 million in damage. 26 people died. Another outbreak occurred May 22-31, 2008, with with 239 confirmed tornadoes and 13 deaths. A third outbreak was June 3-11, 2008, with 192 confirmed tornadoes and 7 deaths.
North American Ice Storm – January 2009
I had lots of family members impacted by this one. Kentucky was one of the hardest hit places, with over 2 inches of ICE. Trees fell, power lines fell, it was extremely cold, and people were without power for weeks. $125 million in damage.
Southeastern US Floods – September 2009
Northern Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas received heavy rainfall, which triggered massive river flooding and mudslides. At least 20,000 businesses and homes damaged, 10 people died, and the cost was $500+ billion.
Southern New England Flood – March 2010
I was an unwilling participant in this one. Back to back to back Nor’easters brought over a foot of rain. Our basement flooded, and it’s amazing how long it takes to clean up a couple of inches of water. At that point, we had lived in Connecticut for 9 years, and I had never seen it rain like that there.
Kentucky/Mississippi/Tennessee Floods – May 2010
Although I joked at the time, “Well, it’s just Opryland!” it affected so much more than that. Two-day rain totals of 20 inches, 31 deaths, and $2.3 billion in damage.
Tornado Outbreak – April 2011
There were two major outbreaks in April 2011. The first set a record for most tornadoes in North Carolina and killed 38 people. The second earned the nickname the 2011 Super Outbreak and had 362 confirmed tornadoes. Over 300 people were killed, and it caused about $11 billion in damage.
Tornado Outbreak – May 2011
Barely a month after the Super Outbreak was another huge outbreak, May 21-26, 2011. This outbreak affected the Midwest and the South, with 181 deaths and $7 billion in damage.
Texas & The Southwest Drought – 2011-2014
One of the most intense droughts since the time of the Dust Bowl. It ended in Texas officially in 2012, but continued through the Southwest. This includes a 40-day stretch of temperatures at or above 100 degrees in Dallas.
Missouri River Flood – June 2011
In the last two weeks of May 2011, nearly a year’s worth of rain fell in the upper Missouri River basin. Think about that. Over $2 billion in damages.
Tropical Storm Lee – September 2011
Proof that it doesn’t have to be a hurricane to wreak havoc. Lee stalled over the mid-Atlantic and dumped about 18 inches of rain. 18 deaths, $1.6 billion in damage.
Superstorm Sandy – October 2012
One of the most destructive hurricanes ever to hit the US. Sandy affected virtually every state on the East Coast, and was another one that I unwillingly participated in. $75 billion in damage, and more than 200 people died.
New England Blizzard – February 2013
Another one I got to participate in, my last one before we left Connecticut. At our house, we had 27 inches of snow and lost power for several hours. One of the scariest snowstorms I’ve ever personally experienced, including thunder and lightning.
Tornado Outbreak – May 2013
This outbreak affected Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, with 115 confirmed tornadoes. One of those tornadoes was 2 1/2 miles wide. There were 9 confirmed deaths.
Colorado Flood – September 2013
Parts of Colorado received up to 17 inches of rain. 17 counties were affected by flooding, 8 people died, over $1 billion in damage.
Gulf Coast Flooding – April 2014
Areas around the Pensacola, Florida area received up to 20 inches of rain, with similar results in southern Alabama. Over $1 billion in damage.
Long Island, NY Flood – August 2014
Long Island set a precipitation record with over a foot of rain on August 27-28. An estimated $4 billion in damage.
Texas & Oklahoma Flooding – May 2015
Parts of Texas and Oklahoma received about 2 feet of rain. 31 deaths connected to the flooding, more deaths connected to a tornado outbreak there.
Utah & Arizona Flooding – September 2015
You also don’t have to live near the ocean to be affected by hurricanes. The remnants of Hurricane Linda caused 20 deaths here.
Charleston, South Carolina Flood – October 2015
Hurricane Joaquin never came ashore, but he didn’t have to in order to destroy homes. The areas around Charleston received over 2 feet of rain in some places. I think our local tally was about 22 inches.
Louisiana Flooding – March 2016
Over 26 inches of rain fell near Monroe, Louisiana. Thousands of homes were damaged, and at least 13 people were killed.
Houston, Texas Tax Day Flood – April 2016
Over a foot of rain fell in Houston within 24 hours. This was very localized to the city, 8 people died, and more than 700 homes were damaged.
West Virginia Flood – June 2016
This was one of the worst floods in West Virginia’s history. At least 23 people died after up to 10 inches of rain fell.
Louisiana Flooding – August 2016
Over 20 inches of rain fell in southern Louisiana. This lead to 13 deaths, and damage in the $10-$15 billion range.
Carolinas Flood – October 2016
Turns out that the great flood of 2015 in South Carolina wasn’t exactly a thousand-year-flood, because it happened again, almost exactly one year later. South Carolina took a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew, and it rained down on us. We had approximately 19-20 inches of rain over about 48 hours.
California Flooding – Winter 2017
People were thrilled when it started raining in California, after years of severe drought. Until the water started rushing over roads and into homes. There were multiple storms that pounded California in the first half of 2017.
And this isn’t even a complete list. These are just the ones that stood out to me, when looking through the natural disaster history in the United States. This doesn’t include so many massive blizzards, wildfires, etc. Or even the repeated damage from lunar high tides in places like Charleston, SC (streets flood with each one!). When are people going to start taking climate change seriously? Is it REALLY easier to do a band-aid fix each time one of these disasters happens, instead of taking steps to try to minimize the damage?