Billion-dollar disasters on the rise - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Billion-dollar disasters on the rise

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All regions of the U.S. suffer from severe weather, including thunderstorms. (Source: KHNL) All regions of the U.S. suffer from severe weather, including thunderstorms. (Source: KHNL)
Intense rain and melting snow surged its way down the Mississippi River, causing historic flooding. (Source: KFVS) Intense rain and melting snow surged its way down the Mississippi River, causing historic flooding. (Source: KFVS)
Smoke generated by wild fires can pose a major health risk. (Source: KHNL) Smoke generated by wild fires can pose a major health risk. (Source: KHNL)

(RNN) - Tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes are devastating natural disasters that could affect anyone.

According to Insurance Center Associates, these natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more costly.

Prior to 1987, the U.S. never experienced a natural disaster with insured losses greater than $1 billion. Since that time, there have been eight.

A new report from Kiplinger reveals the 10 states most at risk of a natural disaster. The rankings are based on estimates of each state's insured property losses across the past decade.

Kiplinger provides financial services and publishes magazines and newsletters. The group named Louisiana as the No. 1 state for natural disasters.

SLIDESHOW: 10 states most likely to suffer from natural disasters

Experts say climate changes and global warming are to blame for the extreme weather that has pummeled the U.S. in 2011.

"Any single weather event is driven by a number of factors, from local conditions to global climate patterns and trends. Climate change is one of these. It is very likely that large-scale changes in climate, such as increased moisture in the atmosphere and warming temperatures, have influenced, and will continue to influence, many different types of extreme events, such as heavy rainfall, flooding, heat waves and droughts," Thomas Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center said.

According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, in the first six months of 2011 the U.S. experienced record-breaking floods and snowstorms, prolonged drought, and massive wildfires.

"The extreme weather that the U.S. has experienced in 2011 should cause all Americans, and especially our elected leaders, to think long and hard about the risks posed by climate change, and about what we can do to minimize those risks," Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change said in a press release. "We need to move past asking whether extreme weather is caused by climate change and start figuring out how to protect ourselves in a future when these events become both more severe and more common."

Every region of the U.S. is vulnerable to at least one type of natural disaster. While some disasters can be predicted, most come with little warning, and are often linked to other events.

Northeast

Severe winter storms seem to be what wreaks the most havoc on the states within this region. Heavy snow falls can bring standstills, and the subsequent melting can cause major flooding.

South

Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Throughout the season, powerful and potent tropical storms form. The precipitation, flooding, and strong winds from the storm systems can devastate dozens of communities at a time.

Midwest

This region is known to see the greatest amount of tornadoes.  Tornadic systems often carry with them a water, wind and fire damage throughout the areas they affect.

West

Earthquakes and wildfires are the two most common disasters in this region. Wildfires can destroy thousands to hundreds of thousands of acres at a time, and take days or weeks to contain.

Santa Ana winds, are infamous for fanning wildfires.

Natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes, can strike at anytime or any place without warning. They can destroy homes and businesses and even take lives. But the key to any sort of natural disaster is being prepared.

You should develop a family disaster plan, gather emergency supplies and seek out the safest shelter for different weather circumstances.

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