Cost of storm set to clobber the East Coast could hit $850 million

How Expensive Are Snow Storms?

The economic impact of a major snowstorm that could bury portions of the East Coast stretching from DC past New York will likely be blunted, experts say, with people hunkered down for the weekend — but a significant chunk of the cost will depend on how cities respond.

Scott Bernhardt, president of weather intelligence service, Planalytics Inc. — which tracks and calculates the economic fallout from various severe weather events — said storms that hit on a weekend have less of an economic impact than storms that occur during a work week.

His company estimates that with roughly 70 million people in the storm's path, the damage will be anywhere from $585 to $850 million.

"That's a big chunk of the nation. And what happens with storms like this is everything just kind of stops, including money," Bernhardt said

"Obviously people go to the store this week. They're buying the bread, the milk and the eggs, but what they don't do is they don't shop, they don't go to the mall, they don't go to the movies, they don't go to restaurants. They don't do the things that people normally do."

The damage that snowstorms of this size inflict on the economy is real. In the winter of 2013 and 2014, a series of severe snowstorms helped shrink the national economy by 2.1 percent in the first quarter of 2014. And in 2015, the largest insured loss event worldwide was one of the winter storms that hit the East Coast. Insured losses were estimated at $2 billion.

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