Are natural hazards and disaster losses in the U.S. increasing?



More than 35 major Presidential disaster declarations, including those for hurricanes Katrina and Rita, already have been declared across the United States in 2005. This is a harbinger of another costly year for natural disasters.

While losses from the 2004 hurricane season are still being tallied, estimates suggest that each Florida hurricane last year was responsible for more than $5 billion in damages ( html). This year (2005) may prove to be the costliest ever. To see whether the years 2004–2005 are unique or are the continuation of an increasing trend in disaster losses over time, spatial and temporal trends in natural hazards losses for the United States (1960–2003) were examined and compared with the geographic patterns of Presidential disaster declarations.