The number of weather-related deaths in the US rose to almost 500 people in 2015, according to the NWS Office of Climate, Water and Weather Services and the National Climatic Data Center.
Of the 2015 weather-related deaths, males, as usual, accounted for more deaths, 329 (66%), than females, 161 (32%). This gender breakdown is typical. In most years, there are almost twice as many male victims of extreme weather as female, a pattern likely reflecting the higher percentage of men who hold outdoor jobs such as construction and who take part in sports and other outside activities such as fishing and boating, NWS said.
In 2015, males were more likely to be victims in all age ranges except children 0-9, which tragically numbered 35 deaths, and the 80+ category, where the percentage of women who reach this age range exceeds that of men.
Which were the deadliest months in 2015? For a second year, it was not the typical summer months, according to the report, but May with 85 victims and December with 55.
In 2015, weather related injuries and illnesses numbered 2,142 down slightly from the 2014 total of 2,187 and more significantly from the 2013 total of 2,766. Tornadoes caused by the far the most injuries with 924 with Thunderstorm and high winds causing 221 injuries. Lightning was responsible for 130 injuries, followed by rip currents with 54, the NWS report said.
Which state had the most dangerous weather in 2015? Texas, with 86 casualties, took that honor from Washington, according to the report, which numbered 50 weather-related fatalities in 2014. A large number of the Texas deaths were due to flooding, which claimed 48 victims. Florida and Illinois were the next hardest hit with 28 and 26 deaths each. Arkansas fatalities were for a variety of hazards, Illinois biggest threat was again extreme cold, 12 victims, which regularly claims an above average number of victims in the state, the report said.
For the second consecutive year, total weather-related damages in 2015 were just about two-thirds of the previous year’s total. Extreme weather caused approximately $4,799 billion, down from $7,603 billion in combined property and crop damages in 2014, and down even more significantly from the 2013 total of $12.7 billion. Property damages were estimated at $4,154 billion down from $5.431 billion in 2014 and $8.8 billion in 2013. The most costly weather culprit for property owners again was flash floods, which caused $1.8 billion in damages, followed again by hail ($586 million) and winter storms, ($530 million). Crop damages in 2015 totaled about $645 million, down significantly from the 2014 total of $2.2 billion. In a switch, flooding caused the most crop damage, accounting for $297 million. In 2014, drought was the biggest threat, causing $1.5 billion in losses, and hitting California the hardest.