The US sets a record for billion-dollar weather disasters in a year – and there are still four months to go – Twin Cities

By SETH BORENSTEIN (AP Science Writer)

The deadly Hawaii firestorm and Hurricane Idalia’s high-water storm surge contributed to the United States reaching a record number of weather disasters costing $1 billion or more. And there are still four months left that look more like a disaster calendar.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that there have been 23 extreme weather events in America this year through August that have cost at least $1 billion, surpassing the annual record of 22 set in 2020. So far this year’s Disasters cost more than $57.6 billion and claimed at least 253 lives.

And NOAA’s count doesn’t include the damage caused by Tropical Storm Hilary in California and the severe drought that hit the South and Midwest because those costs have yet to be added up, Adam Smith said. the NOAA applied climatologist and economist who is tracking billions of dollars in damage. Dollar disasters.

“We see the fingerprints of climate change all over our country,” Smith said in an interview Monday. “I wouldn’t expect things to slow down any time soon.”

NOAA has tracked billion-dollar weather disasters in the United States since 1980 and adjusts damage costs based on inflation. What’s happening reflects a rise in the number of disasters and increased development in areas at risk, Smith said.

“Exposure, vulnerability and climate change are leading to more of these leading to billion-dollar disasters,” Smith said.

NOAA has added eight new billion-dollar disasters to the list since it was last updated a month ago. In addition to Idalia and the Hawaiian firestorm, which killed at least 115 people, NOAA recorded a hailstorm in Minnesota on August 11; severe storms in the northeast in early August; severe storms in Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin in late July; Mid-July hail and severe storms in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Tennessee and Georgia; deadly flooding in the Northeast and Pennsylvania in the second week of July; and late June saw severe storms in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

“This year, a lot of the action was in the central states, north central states, southern and southeastern states,” Smith said.

Experts say the United States needs to do more to adapt to increasing disasters because they are only getting worse.

“The climate has already changed, and neither the built environment nor response systems can keep up with the change,” said former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate, who was not involved in the NOAA report.

The increase in weather disasters is consistent with what climate scientists have long said, along with a possible boost from a natural El Niño, said University of Arizona climate scientist Katharine Jacobs.

“Adding more energy to the atmosphere and oceans will increase the intensity and frequency of extreme events,” said Jacobs, who was not involved in the NOAA report. “Many of this year’s events are very unusual and in some cases unprecedented.”

Smith said he expects 2020’s record to continue for a long time, as this year’s $20 billion disasters broke the old record of 16.

That wasn’t the case, and now he doesn’t believe new records will last long.

Stanford University climate scientist Chris Field described the development of multi-billion dollar disasters as “very worrying.”

“But there are things we can do to reverse the trend,” Field said. “If we want to reduce the damage from severe weather, we must accelerate progress in both mitigating climate change and building resilience.”


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