AccuWeather Estimates Preliminary Total Damage And Economic Loss From The Intense California Storms To Be Between $9 Billion And $11 Billion


Record rainfall, heavy snow, and high winds has caused at least one death, as well as widespread power outages, major flooding, road closures, landslides and mudslides, downed trees, and damage to homes and businesses in highly developed and well populated areas


February 05, 2024

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AccuWeather Global Weather Center – February 05, 2024

AccuWeather estimates the preliminary total damage and economic loss from the intense storms and record rainfall in California this week will be between $9 billion and $11 billion. The deadly and extreme atmospheric river overtook California Saturday into Monday, causing record rainfall, heavy snow, and high winds. It is still impacting the most heavily populated part of the state and has caused at least one death, as well as widespread power outages, major flooding, road closures, landslides and mudslides, downed trees, and damage to homes and businesses in highly developed and well populated areas, including some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the state. This is a preliminary estimate, as the storm effects are continuing to be felt and some areas of the state have not yet reported complete information about damage, injuries, and other impacts.  


Downtown Los Angeles, as of Monday afternoon, had already received over 6 inches of rain from this storm with more than 10 inches in the mountains west of Los Angeles, making this one of the rainiest 2-day periods in Downtown LA history since 1877. Water damage tends to be particularly costly to repair and may either not be covered by homeowner’s insurance policies or underinsured relative to actual damage sustained for people who do carry additional flood insurance. 


In addition to all the precipitation, fierce winds buffeted parts of the state, downing trees and damaging structures. In the San Francisco area and nearby lower elevations, wind gusts of 60 to 85 mph were observed with gusts over 100 mph in the mountains.


AccuWeather’s preliminary estimate largely accounts for damage to homes, businesses, infrastructure, facilities, roadways, and vehicles from both rain and snow, as well as over 900,000 reported power outages at the height of the storm. There was also significant disruption and costs to businesses from travel impediments including blocked roads, train delays, flight cancellations, rerouting, and shipping interruptions.


This preliminary AccuWeather estimates reflects damage and negative impacts to the economy that have occurred through the end storm, as additional damage is expected to accrue as southern parts of the state continue to receive an onslaught of rain tonight, with lingering rain and gusty thunderstorms tomorrow, followed by showery weather continuing through Thursday, exacerbating flooding problems. As the storm travels to Arizona and Nevada, damage from flooding is possible in those areas as well.


The calculation is based on an analysis incorporating independent methods to evaluate all direct and indirect impacts of the storm, includes both insured and uninsured losses, and is based on a variety of sources, statistics, and unique techniques AccuWeather uses to estimate the damage, and includes damage to property, job and wage losses, crops, infrastructure damage, interruption of the supply chain, auxiliary business losses and airport closures as well as flight delays. The estimate also accounts for the costs of evacuations, relocations, emergency management and the government expenses for and cleanup operations and the long-term effects on business logistics, transportation and tourism.


Putting this AccuWeather preliminary estimate of total damage and economic loss into context – AccuWeather estimated the total damage and economic loss for Tropical Storm Hillary’s impact on the Southwest to be $7-9 billion, while the parade of storms that impacted California in December of 2022 into January 2023 were estimated at $31-34 billion. The total damage and economic loss from Hurricane Idalia in 2023 were estimated at $18-20 billion dollars, while the 2023 wildfires in Hawaii were estimated at $14-16 billion.

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