Use your social profile entry

Global Droughts and Heat Waves

About 55 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions at the end of June 2012, according to a report by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). This is the largest percentage since December 1956, when 58 percent of the country was affected by such conditions. June 2012 also marked the fourth-warmest June since record keeping began in 1880, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Drought conditions in Texas in 2011 caused $1 billion in insured losses, according to Munich Re. The persistent drought resulted in the worst wildfire year on record in the state.

Droughts and heat waves accounted for two of the deadliest natural disasters in the world since 1980, including a 2010 heat wave in Russia that caused 56,000 deaths and nearly $2 billion in economic losses, according to a 2011 report by Munich Re. The major part of the direct economic losses of heat waves are secondary effects such as drought, subsidence and wildfires, according to Munich Re.

Europe is witnessing a dramatic increase in property damage as a result of drought-induced soil subsidence, according to a 2011 study from Swiss Re. Prolonged dry spells can cause the ground to sink by so much that cracks appear in the earth, tearing apart the foundations of houses, bridges, factories and other structures. In France alone, subsidence-related losses have risen by more than 50 percent in the last two decades.



(1) The symbols show the most affected regions. The map shows events with property losses and/or fatalities.

($ millions)
Date Event Country/region Overall losses Insured losses (2) Fatalities
Jan. 12, 2010 Earthquake Haiti: Port-au-Prince, Petionville $8,000 $200 222,570
Dec. 26, 2004 Earthquake, tsunami Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, India,
Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives, Malaysia
10,000 1,000 220,000
May 2-5, 2008 Cyclone Nargis Myanmar: Ayeyawaddy, Yangon, Bugalay,
Irrawaddy, Bago, Karen, Mon, Laputta, Haing Kyi
4,000 NA 140,000
Apr. 29-30, 1991 Tropical cyclone Bangladesh: Bay of Bengal, Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong,
Bola, Noakhali districts, esp. Kutubdia
3,000 100 139,000
Oct. 8, 2005 Earthquake Pakistan, India, Afghanistan 5,200 5 88,000
May 12, 2008 Earthquake China: Sichuan, Mianyang, Beichuan, Wenchuan, Shifang,
Chengdu, Guangyuan, Ngawa, Ya’an
85,000 300 84,000
Jul.-Aug. 2003 Heat wave, drought France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Spain,
United Kingdom
13,800 20 70,000
Jul.-Sep. 2010 Heat wave, drought Russia 2,000 20 56,000
Jun. 6, 1990 Earthquake Iran: Caspian Sea, Gilan Provinz, Manjil, Rudbar, Zanjan,
Safid, Qazvin
7,100 100 40,000
Dec. 8-19, 1999 Floods, flash floods Venezuela, Vargas, La Guaira Punta de Mulatos, Miranda,
Nueva Esparta, Yaracuy, Colombia
3,200 220 30,000

(1) As of March 2011.
(2) Based on property losses including, if applicable, agricultural, offshore, marine, aviation and National Flood Insurance Program losses in the United States and may differ from data shown elsewhere.

NA=Not available.

Source – Munich-Re

Related items
News Publications Documents