BOX 1.1 Impact of Weather on the U.S. Economy

  • Weather- and climate-sensitive industries account for about 25% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), or about $2.7 trillion. Industries directly affected by weather (e.g., agriculture, construction, energy, transportation, outdoor recreation) account for nearly 10% of GDP.

  • Drought causes an average annual loss of $6 billion to $8 billion.

  • The average annual damage caused by tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods is $11.4 billion. More accurate hurricane watches and warnings are estimated to have saved $2.5 billion in damage costs annually. Reducing the length of coastline under hurricane warnings saves between $600,000 and $1 million per coastal mile annually in costs of evacuations and other preparedness actions.

  • Property losses associated with the 1997-1998 El Niño were $2.6 billion, including nearly $2 billion in crop losses. Altering planting decisions based on improved El Niño forecasts has saved $265 million to $300 million annually.

  • Seventy percent of air traffic delays are attributed to weather, resulting in $4.2 billion lost in economic efficiency.

SOURCE: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA economic statistics, May 2002, and references therein. Available at <>.

and climate change plays an important role in diseases transmitted by insects and ticks, which are sensitive to variations in temperature and humidity.4 Weather and climate change also affect the distribution of native and invasive species.

Because of the pervasive influence of weather and climate on society, it is important to have the best weather and climate information the nation can afford. In the United States, the approach is to harness the resources and creativity of the government (primarily the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] for civilian purposes), academia, and the private sector in the weather enterprise. Each of these sectors produces and disseminates weather products (e.g., drought maps, precipitation trends) and services (e.g., aviation forecasts) to carry out its respective mission: broadly speaking, NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) is responsible for protecting life and property and enhancing the national economy;5 academia is responsible for advancing the science and educating future


World Health Organization Fact Sheet 266, December 2001, <>.


National Weather Service, 1999, Vision 2005: National Weather Service Strategic Plan for Weather, Water and Climate Services, <>.

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