An emergency worker searches a Walmart store May 23, 2011, that was severely damaged by a tornado in Joplin, Mo.--AP Photo
WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's wild weather year has hit yet another new high: a devastating dozen billion-dollar catastrophes.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday that it has recalculated the number of weather disasters passing the billion dollar mark, with two new ones, pushing 2011's total to 12. The two costly additions are the Texas, New Mexico and Arizona wildfires and the mid June tornadoes and severe weather.
The nation's weather service chief said destructive and relentless extreme weather in America has killed more than 1,000 people this year. The dozen billion dollar disasters add up to $52 billion in damages.
There were as many billion-dollar weather disasters this year as in the entire decade of the 1980s.
Scientists blame a combination of global warming and freak weather.