A quiet 2009 for natural disasters
It was a relatively quiet year globally for natural disasters in 2009. According to Munich Re insurance company, the death toll from 2009 natural disasters was approximately 10,000, well below the average 75,000 deaths per year seen over the decade of the 2000s. Damage from 2009 natural disasters was about $50 billion, compared to the decadal average of $115 billion, and far below the $200 billion in destruction wrought by 2008's natural disasters. The most costly disaster of 2009 was Winter Storm Klaus, which hit northern Spain and southwest France January 23 - 25, causing $5.1 billion in damage. The deadliest weather-related disaster was Category 2 Typhoon Ketsana, which killed 694 people in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Category 2 Typhoon Morakot was a close second, with 614 fatalities, primarily in Taiwan. The deadliest natural disaster overall was the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that shook the Indonesian island of Sumatra on 30 September, killing nearly 1,200 people.
Figure 1. Cars being swept away by Ketsana's flood waters in a still frame from a dramatic YouTube video captured by medical students at the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center.
I'll be back Tuesday with my selection for the top global weather event of 2009: the Horn of Africa drought.