The $50 billion worth of damage Superstorm Sandy incurred in 2012 places it behind Hurricane Katrina as the second most expensive weather-related natural disaster in the world during the last four decades.
The authors of a recent report, which analyzed natural disasters from 1970 to 2012, calculated that Katrina had caused $147 billion in economic losses.
Compiled by the World Meteorological Organization and the Catholic University of Louvain's Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters in Belgium, the report concluded 1.94 million people died and $2.4 trillion was lost as a result of droughts, extreme temperatures, flooding, cyclones and health epidemics between 1970 and 2012.
"Improved early warning systems and disaster management are helping to prevent loss of life," Michel Jarraud, the secretary of the WMO, said in a statement. "But the socio-economic impact of disasters is escalating because of their increasing frequency and severity and the growing vulnerability of human societies.
"Disasters caused by weather, climate and water-related hazards are on the rise worldwide," he added.
Broken down into 10-year segments, the report stated that 3,500 disasters were reported between 2001 and 2010 while 2,400 disasters were counted between 1991 and 2000. From 1971 to 1980, only 743 disasters were reported, by far the smallest figure of all three periods.
The deadliest events took place before the 1990s.
An Ethiopian drought in 1983 killed 300,000, and a drought in Sudan killed 150,000 people in 1984. Bangladesh was plagued with a deadly storm in 1970, which killed 300,000 as well (Erin O'Neill, Newark Star-Ledger, July 14).
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