Forecasting Change: Billion-dollar disasters increasing in US

Sixth year in a row with more than $10 billion in disasters

Billion-dollar disasters

ORLANDO, Fla. – It is hard for most people to think about how much a billion is. In loose conversation, you hear the term “millionaires and billionaires” thrown around at the same time, but the two terms are very different.

A million is a number most can count to, think about and dream about. But a billion is one thousand million. For comparison, at last count, there are about 11 million millionaires in the U.S. There are only 514 billionaires. A billion is rare.

According to NOAA, 2020 will now go down in the record books as the sixth year in a row with 10 or more billion-dollar weather/climate-related disasters.

Billion-dollar disasters

This year, three of those billion-dollar events were hurricanes. There were 11 local severe storm events. Of those, three were tornado events, the other two were hail driven. Drought and fire round out this year’s damage.

The assessment of 2020 will continue in the new year, but for now, the 2020 cost stands at $46.6 billion and 188 lives lost.

Florida has been spared so far in 2020. Louisiana has not. After Hurricane Laura, the strongest storm to make landfall there in more than 150 years, the state had a surge of 70,000 applications for aid.

In coming years, changes in lifestyle, building and location will lead to less loss. We will eventually develop resilience to these disasters, but we will also be trying to lower greenhouse emissions, mitigate climate change and prevent the worst damage from the weather.

Billion-dollar disasters increasing

About the Author:

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.