Winter storms 24 times as deadly as estimated

Government tally excludes weather-related car and plane crashes

Southwest Airplane

STORM WARNING  Deadly car and plane crashes, such as this plane that overshot a Chicago Midway International Airport runway in 2005, aren’t included in a prominent government report on storm deadliness.

Gabriel Widyna

Jack Frost’s fury is deadlier than a major report implies, new research suggests.

Yearly winter storm fatalities are tabulated in Storm Data, a report published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But Storm Data doesn’t include deaths indirectly caused by winter storms, such as precipitation-related car and plane crashes. That’s a glaring omission, say atmospheric scientists Alan Black and Thomas Mote of the University of Georgia in Athens. After combing through 15 years of U.S. fatality data, the researchers report March 9 in Climate, Weather, and Society an additional 13,281 storm-related deaths excluded by Storm Data. An all-inclusive dataset would more accurately represent the real risks posed by winter storms, the pair argues.

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