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August derecho was among top-5 worst severe storm disasters in U.S. since 1980

A series of snapshots of the progression of a derecho across Iowa on August 10, 2020.
A series of snapshots of the progression of a derecho across Iowa on August 10, 2020.(Courtesy: National Weather Service-Chicago, Ill./National Climatic Data Center)
Published: Oct. 17, 2020 at 11:58 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Estimates of the total cost of damage caused by the August 10 derecho along its path now exceed $7 billion, according to federal officials.

The National Centers for Environmental Information, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that the current estimated total cost for the one-day series of severe weather reports that stretched from South Dakota to Ohio stands at an estimated $7.5 billion. This would place the derecho at fourth place on the list of 126 severe thunderstorm and tornado-related disasters in the United States since 1980, though it is likely the costliest in that category where the primary source of damage was not from tornadoes.

The derecho is currently only outpaced in damage costs in 2020 by Hurricane Laura, which made landfall in southwest Louisiana on August 27. That storm, a strong category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale when it came ashore, caused $14 billion in damage. 16 billion-dollar disasters have been identified by NCEI so far in 2020, with damage in Iowa contributing to three of those events.

In total, the agency said there have been 279 billion-dollar-or-more disasters in the country since 1980. The events are grouped into categories of drought, flooding, freeze, severe storm/tornado, tropical cyclone, wildfire, and winter storms. Cost estimates are adjusted for inflation, and actual totals can be adjusted as more data comes in.

The update to the NCEI data was first reported by The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang blog.

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