Flood Damage in the United States, 1926-2003
A Reanalysis of National Weather Service Estimates
Appendix A: Compilation of Damage Estimates for 1976-1979
Monthly damage estimates by river basin in 1976 and 1977 were published in Climatological Data National Summary. NWS staff prepared some 1978 and 1979 estimates which were summarized in Weatherwise (Marrero 1979, 1980). We augmented these estimates with unpublished information housed at NWS-HIC, including reports from regional NWS offices, preliminary tabulation sheets, and notes made by NWS employees. Wherever possible, we also compared damage estimates from NWS-HIC files with reports on specific floods by other agencies, including USACE, USGS, and NOAA. Final estimates were chosen using the following rules:
- In order to change any estimates in the NWS tabulated data set, a published source had to provide good reason to doubt the NWS estimates and the published source had to provide more reliable estimates.
- There were instances when we had to choose between two or more estimates. In general, we chose published source estimates over NWS "grey" sources.
- Asterisks were added to the estimates wherever published sources indicated that a damaging flood occurred but provided no estimates.
1976 Flood Damage Estimates
Reconstructed 1976 damage estimates by state and month are shown in Table A-1. Data sources are as follows:
- September in California is from the NOAA Cooperative Observer (NOAA 1976).
- July in Colorado is from a USGS/NOAA report (1979).
- May in Oklahoma is from a report concerning flood hazard mitigation in Oklahoma (Patton 1993).
- All other damage estimates are from NWS notes and summaries archived at NWS-HIC, which had been compiled for publication in Climatological Data National Summary, but had not been published.
1977 Flood Damage Estimates
Reconstructed 1977 damage estimates by state and month are shown in Table A-2. Data sources are as follows:
- The following totals are from USACE reports: October in Arizona (USACE, Los Angeles District 1978) and December in Oregon and Washington (USACE, Portland District 1978).
- The estimate for a flood in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri in September of 1977 is from NOAA (1977) and USGS (1991) reports.
- 1977 damage totals for Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia have been changed based on information on April flooding in Appalachia from a TVA flood report (TVA 1978).
- All other damage estimates are from NWS notes and summaries archived at NWS-HIC.
1978 Flood Damage Estimates
Reconstructed 1978 damage estimates by state and month are shown in Table A-3. It was more difficult to piece together the flood estimates for 1978 and 1979 than for 1976 and 1977. Several different sets of state-level estimates exist in the NWS files for 1978, and in many cases the estimates do not agree. Data sources are as follows:
- All estimates for California are from the California Office of Emergency Services (Montane 1999).
- Most of the entries represented by asterisks rather than damage figures are based on information in Storm Data. In these cases it was apparent that flooding had occurred, but damage figures were not available.
- The following numbers are from USACE reports: March in Arizona (USACE, Los Angeles District 1979a); March in Ohio (USACE, Buffalo District 1978); August in New Mexico (USACE, Albuquerque District 1978); September in Arkansas (USACE, Little Rock District 1978); September in Texas (USACE, Albuquerque District 1979a); December in Arizona (USACE, Los Angeles District 1979b and USACE, Los Angeles District 1980); and December in New Mexico (USACE, Los Angeles District 1980).
- Montana and Wyoming in May are from a jointly authored USGS/NOAA paper (USGS 1984).
- The following estimates are from Marrero (1979): March in Nebraska and Indiana; April in North Dakota and Virginia; May in Louisiana and Texas; July in Alabama, Minnesota, and Wisconsin; August in Texas; and September in Louisiana.
- The following estimates are from Storm Data: May in Arkansas; July in Colorado; August in Illinois, Indiana, and Maryland; and December in Idaho.
- All other estimates are from NWS files.
1979 Flood Damage Estimates
Reconstructed 1979 damage estimates by state and month are shown in Table A-4. Data sources are listed below. Users of 1979 estimates should note that a flood in "New Jersey, New York, and southern New England" in January caused $62 million in damage (Marrero 1980). This estimate could not be assigned to individual states. Similarly, a flood in April in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama caused $1 billion in damage that could not be assigned to individual states (Marrero 1980). These floods are included in the national total for 1979, but not in the state estimates.
- All estimates for Virginia are from the state emergency management office (Michael Cline, personal communication 2000).
- The following estimates are from Marrero (1980): March in Indiana and Iowa; April in Texas; July in Texas; September in Maryland, Louisiana, and Texas; October in Kansas and Florida; and November in Hawaii.
- The following are from USACE reports: March in Minnesota and North Dakota (USACE, St. Paul District 1979) and June in New Mexico (USACE, Albuquerque District 1979b).
- Estimates from Storm Data include: February in Arkansas; April in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois; March in Florida and New York; May in South Dakota; June in Colorado; July in Alabama, Illinois, New York, and West Virginia; August in Minnesota, Utah, and West Virginia; and September in Florida.
- February in Hawaii is from USGS (1991).
- April in Ohio is from NWS notes.
- All other estimates are from NWS files.
Table A-1. 1976 damage estimates (thousands of current dollars)
Table A-2. 1977 damage estimates (thousands of dollars)
Table A-3. 1978 damage estimates (thousands of dollars)
Table A-4. 1979 damage estimates (thousands of dollars)
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