America has already set a record for “billion dollar” disasters in a given year – even three months from the end and even three months from the peak of hurricane season.
According to NOAA, which has tracked weather disasters in the United States since 1980 and adjusts their costs for inflation, this year’s storms have already cost more than $57.6 billion and claimed the lives of at least 253 people. .
Disasters include wildfires in Maui, Hurricane Idalia in Florida and flooding in the Northeast.
There have been 23 billion-dollar storms this year, breaking the previous record of 22 in 2020, according to a report. report of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Adam Smith, an applied climatologist with NOAA who tracks weather events that cost billions of dollars, said Monday that he “doesn’t expect things to slow down anytime soon.”
“We see the fingerprints of climate change all over our country,” he said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been tracking the number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the United States since 1980. So far in 2023, there have been 23 billion-dollar weather events. a billion dollars.
A ring of flames engulfs Lahania, Hawaii. A devastating wildfire on August 8 destroyed the beach town, costing some 3,000 structures and at least 115 lives.
California has seen a record number of floods this year, as about a dozen atmospheric rivers hit the once-dry state.
Cars are stranded in floodwaters in Canton, Michigan, after August storms flooded parts of the Detroit area.
The organization listed an Aug. 11 hailstorm in Minnesota and severe storms in early August and mid-July in the Midwest and parts of the South among 23 costly weather events.
The organization has not yet taken into account the damage caused by Tropical Storm HilaryWho knocked California along the coast, as well as in parts of Nevada and Washington.
Droughts in the South and Midwest also need to be added to the tally, as the costs are still being tabulated.
Each of the weather events listed cost at least $1 billion in damage.
Smith said the incredibly high number of costly weather events is due to both an increase in the number of disasters and more areas being built in risky locations.
“Exposure, vulnerability and climate change are driving an increasing number of these billion-dollar disasters,” Smith said.
“This year, much of the action took place in the Central, North Central, South and Southeast states.”
He added that he believed the record set in 2020 would stand for many years, as disasters worth $22 billion that year far exceeded the previous record of 16.
But after this year’s partial results, he no longer believes new records can last very long.
Weather experts say the country needs to become more adaptable to weather events as there are more and more of them every year.
“The climate has already changed and neither the built environment nor response systems are keeping up with the change,” said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In an aerial view, mud surrounds homes damaged during a flash flood caused by a monsoon storm that quickly dropped three inches of rain on a region still recovering from Tropical Storm Hilary on Sept. 2 in Thermal, in California.
Pickup trucks and debris are scattered in a canal in Horseshoe Beach, Florida, after Hurricane Idalia hit Wednesday, August 30.
Tallahassee residents are filling sandbags as they prepare for the worst with Hurricane Idalia heading toward Florida on August 29.
Young men helped move debris in Kent County, Michigan, in August after at least four tornadoes touched down in Michigan, fueled by winds that killed several people.
A Target shopping cart sits abandoned on the road next to a downed tree near the department store that closed after freezing rain hit central Texas in February
Family assesses damage to home after winter tornado in Houston
A car is overturned in a Kroger parking lot after a severe storm swept through Little Rock, Arkansas, on March 31.
Yards along Soquel Creek in the village of Capitola are flooded by a storm surge January 5 in Capitola, California.
Katharine Jacobs, a climate scientist at the University of Arizona, said “adding more energy to the atmosphere and oceans will increase the intensity and frequency of extreme events.”
“Many of this year’s events are very unusual and in some cases unprecedented.”
Chris Field, a climate scientist at Stanford University, called the rise in billion-dollar disasters “very troubling.”
“But there are things we can do to reverse the trend,” he added. “If we want to reduce the damage caused by severe weather, we need to accelerate progress on stopping climate change and building resilience. »