Report: More than 600 people in U.S. died during weather in 2011 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Report: More than 600 people in U.S. died during weather in 2011

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Deadly tornado hits South Carolina in November 2011 Deadly tornado hits South Carolina in November 2011

ORLANDO, FL (WBTV) - Major tornado outbreaks, land falling hurricanes and even a freakish Halloween weekend snowstorm in the Northeast combined to make 2011 the worst year on record for federally declared disasters. 

In human cost, it was an astounding year:  more than 600 deaths nationwide from nearly 1,900 tornadoes and 30,000 total severe weather events - none other like it in many decades.

Crunching the numbers, overall losses to the American economy added up $77 billion.  More than half of those losses were covered by insurance providers, one of the costliest to the industry on record, and a that could be a troubling sign.

With 2012 off to an unusually busy start - already 55 deaths resulting from 375 tornadoes across the Midwest and South - insurance rates for homeowners and business may spike with the weather.

Speaking at National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, FL today, Steven Weisbart, Chief Economist with the Insurance Information Institute warned that rates may rise in Southern states; places where the vast majority of recent disasters have occurred.  

"While residents of Alabama, Florida and North Carolina prepare for the upcoming severe weather and hurricane seasons, they'd better prepare for higher insurance rates as well, as these states, along with a handful of others, seem to be in Mother Nature's cross hairs of late."

And while this warning comes from a presentation at a gathering of tropical meteorology experts - historically, hurricanes account for 43% of all insured losses - it is tornadoes and severe thunderstorms (and the hail and damaging winds that accompany them), that has forecasters and insurers alike concerned. 

Already this year, population centers, such as Charlotte, Louisville and Birmingham, AL have experienced extensive damage and that means more and more insurance claims, driving costs of for all of us.

Best advise from the experts:  be prepared! 

Lessons from the past tell us each of us has to be ready for severe weather.  Time and time again today, the theme was be prepared for "all hazards."

Make sure your insurance is up to date, that your family has a severe weather plan and be ready to implement that plan in moment's notice. 

Lastly, emergency managers warned that after a severe weather event occurs, a family should expect to be on your own for up to 72 hours, meaning have food, water, medication, cash and any else necessary for your survival on hand before the storm strikes.

Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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