America has already set a record for ‘billion-dollar’ disasters in a given year – even with three months to go and the peak of hurricane season still remaining.
According to NOAA, which has been tracking billion-dollar weather disasters in the US since 1980 and adjusting costs for inflation, this year’s storms have already cost more than $57.6billion and claimed at least 253 lives.
The disasters include the Maui wildfires, Hurricane Idalia in Florida and flooding in the Northeast.
There have been 23 billion-dollar storms this year, beating the previous record of 22 in 2020, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA applied climatologist Adam Smith, who tracks the billion-dollar weather events, said Monday he does ‘not expect things to slow down anytime soon.’
‘We’re seeing the fingerprints of climate change all over our nation,’ he said.
The organization listed an August 11 Minnesota hailstorm and severe storms in early August and mid-July across the Midwest and parts of the South among the 23 costly weather events.
Droughts in the South and Midwest have also yet to be added to the count, as costs are still being totaled.
Each of the weather events listed have cost at least $1billion in damage.
Smith said the shockingly high number of costly weather events is both due to a rise in the number of disasters, and because more areas are being built in risk-prone locations.
‘Exposure plus vulnerability plus climate change is supercharging more of these into billion-dollar disasters,’ Smith said.
‘This year, a lot of the action has been across the center states, north central, south and southeastern states.’
He added he thought the record established in 2020 would last for many years because the 22 billion-dollar disasters that year far surpassed the previous record of 16.
After this year’s partial results, however, he no longer believes new records will hold for very long.
Weather experts say the country needs to become more adaptable to weather events, because there are only more each year.
‘The climate has already changed and neither the built environment nor the response systems are keeping up with the change,’ Former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Craig Fugate said.