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Study: Extreme weather has cost Arizona $3 billion in damage since 2010

(Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP)

PHOENIX — When extreme weather hits, the only things that really matter are saving lives and keeping people safe.

When the dust settles, so to speak, then a community can look at what happened that needs to be fixed or changed for the future.

According to a study conducted by the University of Arizona, extreme weather events have cost Arizona $3 billion in direct damage costs since 2010.

Laura Bakkensen and Riana Johnson of UA’s School of Government and Public Policy co-authored a report titled, “The Economic Impacts of Extreme Weather: Tucson and Southern Arizona’s Current Risks and Future Opportunities.”

In the study, they found that the Tucson area sees the highest yearly frequency of extreme weather conditions in the west, when comparing to major cities.

The study labels extreme weather events as thunderstorms, hail and flooding.

Barkkensen told KTAR News that the Tucson area gets about 47 extreme events per year, with it usually being flash flooding and thunderstorms. In the study, they found that results in at least one death and three injuries annually.

Barrkensen said they compared the Tucson area to 11 other regions in the western United States: Albuquerque, Austin, Colorado Springs, Denver, El Paso, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Diego.

Including wildfires, the events cost Tucson and Pima County $9.4 million in reported property damages each year.

Barrkensen, who is an assistant professor at UA, said one of their goals in completing the study was to keep the public informed.

“We were hoping that first of all people just become better aware of the fact that there are extreme weather events in Tucson and Pima County,” Barrkensen said.

For a look at the full report, click here.

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