Record-breaking: Weather disasters in 2020 total $95 billion in damage

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — 2020 was not only an active and record-breaking year in the WKRG News 5 area, but also across the entire U.S.

Adam Smith, NOAA disaster expert, said, “There were 22 separate billion-dollar disasters with a total cost of $95 billion. This was actually the fourth highest inflation-adjusted year over the last 41 years back to 1980.”

The total cost of $95 billion in damage is more than double the inflation-adjusted average. The 22 separate disasters included three tornado outbreaks, seven hurricane events, 10 severe storm events, one wildfire event, and one drought event, killing 262 people in total. The record number of events was previously 16, and we have never had more than four hurricane disasters in one year. Smith adds, “Of these 30 storms, 12 made landfall across the United States somewhere, which also broke a record. Of these 12 events, seven were billion-dollar hurricane events.”

Out West, a record of over 10 million acres were burned from the historic wildfires. 

Smith says, “Typically in the past, a wildfire season was in the two to three billion dollar range, but in the past four years we have had a jump of ten times that amount… We are in the 10 to 25 billion dollar range with these wildfires.”

2020 was also the fifth warmest year on record for the entire U.S. with all five warmest years on record occurring since 2012. The drought in 2020 covered 22 percent of the U.S. and was the largest expanse since 2012. 

We can only hope 2021 is more quiet in the weather world, but it is important to always be prepared. 

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