Nov 21, 2023 - Climate

Billion-dollar storms are getting more frequent in Minnesota

Illustration of a storm destroying a roof made from a one hundred dollar bill

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

One of the costliest weather disasters in Minnesota history hit in the summer of 2017, and there's a decent chance you don't remember it.

  • It was a north metro hailstorm that racked up more than $3 billion in damages, mainly in the form of roof replacements.

Driving the news: The NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information recently updated its data on inflation-adjusted billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. It has a nifty breakdown of Minnesota events, as well.

Why it matters: The NOAA data confirms that Minnesota is a relatively safe place to live in terms of natural disasters, but our weather can still be very damaging to property, and the problem is getting worse.

  • Minnesota has been affected by 57 weather disasters since 1980, causing an estimated $20-$50 billion in damages.

Zoom in: 60% of those damages were caused by severe storms, like the 2017 storm, as well as the hailstorm that hit a swath of Minnesota this August, costing $1.5 billion.

  • 24% of costs were caused by droughts, including the last couple of hot and dry summers.
  • 15% was caused by flooding.

Threat level: The pace of $1 billion disasters in the U.S. has been rising and is expected to get worse.

  • There was an average of one every four months in the 1980s.
  • There's an average of one every three weeks now, according to the NOAA.

Context: This results from climate change and population growth, Axios' Andrew Freedman notes.

  • And in Minnesota, the hailstorms are getting more costly because homes — and therefore roofs — are getting bigger, while construction costs are rising faster than inflation.

The bottom line: Homeowners pay for this in the form of rising insurance premiums.


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