January 31, 2017 – On average, how much are landslides estimated to cost the nation per year?

  1.  $38 million
  2.  $1 billion
  3.  $3.5 billion

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The correct answer is about $3.5 billion. In the United States, it is estimated that landslides cost the nation $3.5 billion per year. Because there is no uniform method or overall agency that keeps track of or reports landslide losses, this is an approximation. Landslides result in extremely high monetary losses in other countries, but there is no overall estimate as to the exact cost worldwide. For example, the winter season rains associated with the 1997-1998 El Niño caused landslide damage estimated at $210.2 million in the San Francisco Bay, California, region.

USGS science is helping answer questions such as where, when and how often landslides occur, and how fast and far they might move. USGS scientists produce maps of areas susceptible to landslides and identify what sort of rainfall conditions will lead to such events. The USGS and NOAA are working on a Debris Flow Warning System to help provide forecasts and alerts.

Click here to learn more.

“Hazard a Guess?” is an ongoing series, so check out past questions and come back soon for more. Don’t forget to share these with friends and family to help raise awareness of natural hazards.