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Report: Fewer natural disasters than usual in 2013
By Insure.com staff

Although some experts predicted 2013 would be a record year for catastrophes, fewer natural disasters than usual wreaked havoc in the United States, according to a report from CoreLogic, an analytics company headquartered in Irvine, Calif.

Still, the disasters that did hit the country caused plenty of pain, and this year's relatively low number of wretched events is only a temporary reprieve.

"Going into 2014, it's important to remember that hazard-driven property damage and loss can and does occur each year, and with the cyclical nature of some of these events, this year should be considered fair warning that next year will likely see a return to the higher average numbers of damaging natural disasters." Thomas Jeffery, CoreLogic's senior principal scientist, said in a press statement.

Only two of 13 named Atlantic storms reached hurricane status, and none had a direct impact on the United States. Nationwide flooding was moderate compared to previous years, partly because of the low number of Atlantic storms.

The most significant flood happened after heavy rain pounded Boulder, Colo., in September and led to flooding in 17 Colorado counties and destroyed more than 19,000 homes. Standard home insurance does not cover flooding. A homeowner must have a separate flood insurance policy to get coverage for flood damage.

Tornado activity was at a historic low. As of Oct. 25, 229 fewer tornadoes were reported this year than any other in the past decade. But unusually severe Oklahoma storms and a violent wave of late-season storms were devastating. Following three days of storms with numerous tornado sightings, a monster twister swept a 17-mile path through Moore, Okla., killing 23 people, injuring 377 others and causing an estimated $2 billion in damage. The widest tornado ever recorded -- 2.6 miles at its widest -- struck El Reno, Okla., in early June, killing eight people and damaging $40 billion in property, CoreLogic noted.

Fewer wildfires burned fewer acres than the annual 10-year average in 2013. Except for California, Colorado, Idaho and Washington, the West saw dramatically lower wildfire activity than in recent years, according to the report. The most notable fires of the year included:

  • Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire, which destroyed 8,400 acres and 129 homes
  • Colorado's Black Forest Fire, which burned 14,000 acres and destroyed or damaged 500 homes
  • The Rim Fire, the third largest fire in California state history, which burned more than 257,000 acres, including much of the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park.

Florida sinkholes, meanwhile, captured national attention. A sinkhole in Seffner formed underneath a man's home and killed a resident. In Clermont, a 100-foot sinkhole damaged a tourist villa, and in Dunedin, two homes collapsed when a 90-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep sinkhole formed.

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