Published: 4:31 PM GMT on June 17, 2012
Insured damage from a massive 3-hour hailstorm that pummeled Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, June 13, may reach $2 billion, said the Southwestern Insurance Information Service (SIIS) on Friday. If true, this would be the fourth billion-dollar U.S. weather disaster of 2012. A cluster of three severe thunderstorms dropped hail the size of baseballs over a heavily populated area, damaging thousands of cars, puncturing skylights at a local mall, and shattering the expensive tile roofs of hundreds of homes. It was the second major hailstorm to hit the region this year; an April 3 event cost close to $500 million, and damaged 110 airplanes at the DFW airport. You can see a radar image of the June 13 storm using our wundermap with the "go back in time" feature turned on.
Figure 1. Huge hail splashes into the waters of White Rock Lake in Dallas on June 13, 2012. Image credit: Wunderphotographer CinnamonDreams.
One of the most expensive hailstorms of all-time
The June 13 hailstorm will rank as one of the most expensive of all-time, according to statistics of billion-dollar disasters maintained by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and a list of damaging hail events maintained at Wikipedia. Wikipedia lists only three hailstorms in U.S. history with damages exceeding $1 billion:
1) The April 10, 2001 St. Louis, Missouri hailstorm. This costliest hailstorm in U.S. history, costing $2+ billion, struck the I-70 corridor of eastern Kansas, across Missouri, into southwestern Illinois.
2) The May 5, 1995 Mayfest Storm in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. Severe thunderstorms produced hail the size of softballs, causing $1.1 billion in insured losses, and total damage of $2 billion.
3) The July 11, 1990 hailstorm in Colorado. Softball-sized hail destroyed roofs and cars, causing $625 million in total damage ($1.1 billion in damage adjusted to 2011 dollars.)
Video 1. News coverage of the June 13, 2012 hailstorm in Dallas, Texas, from local TV station News8. The aerial shots of a fog-shrouded golf course covered with ice are quite remarkable.
Six global billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2012
There have been five global billion-dollar weather disasters as of the end of May, said Aon Benfield in their latest May Catastrophe Recap. Three of these were in the U.S. With the addition of the June 13 Dallas hailstorm, the global total would rise to six and the U.S. total to four. The most expensive weather-related disaster of 2012 has been the March 2 - 3 tornado and severe weather outbreak in the Midwest and Southeast U.S., which killed 41 people and caused $3 billion in damage. The second most expensive was the severe thunderstorms and heavy rains that hit China during late April and early May, bringing flooding, landslides, and damaging hail to the Gansu, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. Over 143,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, with $2.68 billion in damage. Two other severe weather outbreaks in the U.S. topped the $1 billion mark in damages in 2012: the April 27 - 29 event in the Midwest ($1.5 billion in damage), and an April 2 - 4 severe weather outbreak in Texas that did a tremendous amount of hail damage near Dallas/Ft. Worth ($1 billion.) A fourth severe weather event, April 13 - 15 in the Plains and Midwest, is very close the $1 billion mark ($950 million in damage.) Another weather disasters that might approach the $1 billion mark is the frosts and freezes that decimated Midwest fruit trees after 2012's "summer in March" heat wave. Agricultural damage in Michigan alone has been estimated by the state to be $223.5 million--including $130 million to cherry and apple orchards. The pace and cost of billion-dollar weather disasters in 2012 is well below that of 2011, which had had fourteen billion-dollar weather disasters between January and May (nine in the U.S.) These 2011 disasters cost $73 billion, compared to the $10 billion price tag of 2012's five-billion dollar disasters from January - May.
Super Typhoon Guchol headed towards Tokyo
Super Typhoon Guchol , a powerful Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds, is churning through the Western Pacific towards Japan, and is expected to pass close to Tokyo late Tuesday night local time. As Guchol approaches Japan on Monday and Tuesday morning, ocean temperatures will cool below 26°C and wind shear will increase, which should cause significant weakening of the typhoon. By the time of closest approach to Tokyo, I expect Guchol will most likely be a tropical storm, but could be a Category 1 typhoon.
The Atlantic is quiet
There are no threat areas to discuss in the Atlantic today. Several models are predicting that a tropical disturbance capable of becoming a tropical depression could form in Mexico's Bay of Campeche sometime June 22 - 24.
I'll have a new post late Monday or early Tuesday. Wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a post on record hailstorms.
Dallas, TX thunderstorm dropped a few big ones today.