Jul 15, 2016

Earth's 5th Costliest Non-U.S. Weather Disaster on Record: China's $22 Billion Flood

Wuhan, Hubei
China
by
Jeff Masters and Bob Henson
,
Weather Underground
A stadium in Wuhan, China on July 6, 2016, after the city received 7.09” (180 mm) of rain in the twelve hours ending at 8 am July 6. Wuhan received over 560 mm (1.8 feet) of rain over the ten day period before the July 6 deluge, causing widespread damage and chaos. Photo: Wang He/Getty Images
A stadium in Wuhan, China on July 6, 2016, after the city received 7.09” (180 mm) of rain in the twelve hours ending at 8 am July 6. Wuhan received over 560 mm (1.8 feet) of rain over the ten day period before the July 6 deluge, causing widespread damage and chaos. Photo: Wang He/Getty Images

A historic flood event continues in China, where torrential monsoon rains along the Yangtze River Valley in central and eastern China since early summer have killed 237 people, left 93 people missing, and caused at least $22 billion in damage, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on Thursday. According to the International Disaster database, EM-DAT, this would make the 2016 floods China's second most expensive weather-related natural disaster in history, and Earth's fifth most expensive non-U.S. weather-related disaster ever recorded. Only China's 1998 floods, with a price tag of $44 billion (2016 dollars), were more damaging than the 2016 floods. According to the June 2016 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield, Earth's only deadlier weather disaster in 2016 was an April heat wave in India that claimed 300 lives. Some 147,200 houses have been destroyed by this summer's floods in China, and over 21,000 square miles of farmland had been inundated--an area the size of Massachusetts and Vermont combined. An additional $1.3 billion in flood damage from Typhoon Nepartak occurred in China in July.

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As the planet’s oceans and atmosphere warm up due to increased amounts of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, more water vapor is entering the lower atmosphere, which provides more fuel for heavy rain. Observations show that the heaviest periods of precipitation have become more intense in many parts of the globe, and climate models agree that this trend should continue as our planet continues to warm. The Yangtze Valley of China is among the locations where a significant increase in summer precipitation was found to occur during the 20th century