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Joplin Tornado Expected to be Costliest in US History

Terrifying Joplin Supercell Tornado Seen from Space
Terrifying Joplin Supercell Tornado Seen from Space (Image credit: NASA)

The massive tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., this spring is on the way to becoming the costliest one in U.S. history, according to a new report.

Insurance payouts from the Joplin tornado now exceed $1 billion, and that amount eventually could double, according to the Missouri Department of Insurance.

Home, auto and commercial insurers have reported their preliminary claims and payment numbers as of Sept. 1. They are:

Homeowners: $462,015,156

Auto (private): $54,310,402

Commercial property: $523,799,138

Commercial auto: $3,663,730

Other: $10,305,171

Missouri's insurance department has received nearly 17,000 claims from the storm and expects 18,000 more to be filed. The payments made on insurance claims so far totals $1,054,093,597.

Department director John M. Huff said payments from the tornado probably will approach $2 billion once all insurance claims are settled.

The Joplin tornado stands to pass the 1966 Topeka, Kan., tornado as the costliest in U.S. history. The adjusted value of the Kansas twister is $1,599,537,000, according to the nation's Storm Prediction Center.

From fires to floods to tornadoes, 2011 has already racked up a record-breaking 10 weather disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damage each.

The Joplin tornado struck on Sunday, May 22, as an EF-5, the strongest rating on the tornado damage scale. The twister killed 162 people, reported the Weather Channel, making it the seventh deadliest in U.S. history and the deadliest in at least 60 years. It also injured more than 1,000.

The storm was three-quarters of a mile wide with a 300-yard-wide (274 meters) hurricane-like eye. Its winds exceeded 200 mph (322 kph). The tornado was on the ground for 6 miles (9.7 kilometers).

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Live Science Staff
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