MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - 2011 wasn’t just an active year for extreme weather, it was also very expensive. There were a dozen weather events across the country that each had billions of dollars in economic losses. Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona experienced wildfires and drought. Over 3 million acres burned in Texas. Hurricane Irene ravaged the Mid-Atlantic Coast and cost $7.3 billion in damages. The Groundhog Day Blizzard impacted many northeastern states causing $1.8 billion in damages.
Six extreme weather events happened in parts of the Mid-South totaling upwards of $30 billion in total economic losses.
NWS Meteorologist Jim Belles said, “At that time, you had a very powerful jet stream and very strong temperature differences. The timing had aligned perfectly for an unfortunate string of violent tornadoes.”
Many violent storm systems visited the same places over and over, which led to excessive rainfall along the Ohio River. This, along with the snow melt from the Upper Midwest, contributed to the historic flooding in Memphis last spring.
Economic losses from the historic Mid-South flood totaled $3-$4 billion. It’s estimated that damage reached $800 million for agriculture in Mississippi.
Forecasters say that every year the Mid-South has tornadoes, but it’s impossible to forecast how strong they will be this far in advance. There will also be a very close eye on potential flooding this year after the floods of last spring.
“We're not looking at a lot of snow pack in the upper portion of the Mississippi river, but remember, much of our component comes from the Ohio River and we are anticipating above normal rainfall there,” said Belles.