Extreme weather impacts the economy of cities across the Western United States in many ways. Since 2010, the state of Arizona has lost more than $3 billion in direct damages from extreme weather. Averaging $500 million per year, losses equal more than 5 percent of the state government’s annual operating budget.
Extreme weather losses vary greatly in magnitude across major Western U.S. cities, due to the frequency of weather extremes and differences in economic composition.
Laura A. Bakkensen, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Government and Public Policy, will discuss the impacts of extreme weather events on Tucson and Southern Arizona in a 3:30 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 10) lecture in the Arizona Senior Academy’s Great Room.
This lecture analyzes Tucson’s economy and extreme weather. Bakkensen compares Tucson with other Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) across the Western United States. She finds that Tucson has a strong economy, with major sectors including government, trade, professional services, and construction.
However, Tucson suffers large losses from extreme weather. Thunderstorms and flooding dominate Tucson’s extreme weather losses, accounting for an average of 84 percent of all extreme weather events and 96 percent of all property losses.
Extreme weather losses across the Tucson MSA average $9,449,667 per year (measured in 2009 dollars) in direct reported property damages, including wildfire damage. At 47 events per year, Tucson averages the highest yearly extreme storm count across major MSAs in the Western United States.
Weather events can be disruptive to Tucson’s economy, with flash flooding creating hazards for transportation, heat extremes impacting outdoor worker productivity, and hail destroying crops.
Bakkensen received her Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from Yale University. She was previously a visiting researcher at the Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change in Venice, Italy.
Written by Charles Prewitt, Academy Village Volunteer