Kentucky was the 8th most active state for severe weather in the United States for 2009. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, during 2009, a total of 815 severe weather events struck Kentucky. These severe weather events consisted of 38 tornadoes, 254 hail storms, and 523 wind storms. In the map below, red dots are tornados, blue dots are wind damage and green dots are for hail storms.
The most startling trend to emerge out of the NOAA data was that Kentucky was becoming part of a major new national weather pattern for disasters. Kentucky, along with the states of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas are framing a Midwestern-Southern zone for the formation of extreme and severe weather events.
These states accounted for over 60 percent of all severe weather events in the United States during 2009. Kentucky had 3 percent of the national totals. NOAA measured only the spring-summer-fall severe weather events of tornadoes, hail and wind.
To truly understand just how extreme the weather is becoming for many of these states, the impact of heavy rains, flooding, snow and ice storms needs to be included in the data fields for understanding this new century weather patterns
Figuring just how much an extreme storm’s cost to modern society is still a guess. Deaths, property losses, damage to roads and highways, electrical and utility infrastructure damage, lost work and school days all add to the new realization that modern extreme weather events are becoming a part of the “new normal” for those of us who live in mid America.
In 2009, Kentucky’s Ice Storm cost over 1 billion dollars. That figure was for just the normal costs of storms. It didn’t consider the cost of millions of trees damage or destroyed; the thousands of people who exhausted their savings buying generators or the loss of work.
What the NOAA data does show is that America is experiencing a major shift in its weather pattern for the mid-West and the South.
However, there seems to be little or no preparation or planning to meet this new challenge at the state or local level.
Only time will tell if these states can escape a major extreme weather event from the next few years.