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2020 shatters record for billion-dollar weather, climate disasters in US

Florida impacted by two of the events

FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020 file photo, buildings and homes are flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura in Cameron, La. Laura, which jumped 65 mph (105 kph) in the day before landfall, tied the record for the biggest rapid intensification in the Gulf of Mexico, said former hurricane hunter meteorologist Jeff Masters. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020 file photo, buildings and homes are flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura in Cameron, La. Laura, which jumped 65 mph (105 kph) in the day before landfall, tied the record for the biggest rapid intensification in the Gulf of Mexico, said former hurricane hunter meteorologist Jeff Masters. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORLANDO, Fla – Last year, was a tough year on many levels. The 2020 weather was no exception. The combination of record-breaking wildfire and hurricane seasons to intense severe weather events led to 22 billion-dollar disasters across the country, the most on record.

In total there was one drought, one wildfire event, 13 severe storm events and seven tropical storm/hurricanes each exceeding $1 billion in damage.

Map of approximate location of 2020's Billion-Dollar Disasters.
Map of approximate location of 2020's Billion-Dollar Disasters.

The 22 events totaled to $95 billion, the fourth most on record according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

A record shattering 22 billion-dollar disasters occurred in 2020.
A record shattering 22 billion-dollar disasters occurred in 2020.

The most costly disaster was Hurricane Laura with more than $19 billion is losses. The western wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington totaled $16.5 billion in losses. The massive Derecho in the Midwest came in third causing $11 billion in losses.

Top 5 billion-dollar disasters of 2020. Numbers are in billions of dollars.
Top 5 billion-dollar disasters of 2020. Numbers are in billions of dollars.

6. Western/Central Drought and Heatwave: $4.5 Billion (Summer/Fall)

7. Southeast Tornado Outbreak: $3.6 Billion (Mid April)

8. Hurricane Zeta: $3.5 Billion (Late Oct)

9. North Central Hail Storms and Severe Weather: $2.9 Billion (Early April)

10. Hurricane Delta: $2.9 Billion (Mid Oct)

11. Midwest/Ohio Valley Severe Weather: $2.6 Billion (Late March)

12. Tennessee Tornadoes/Southwest Severe Weather: $2.5 Billion (Early March)

13. Central/Eastern Severe Weather: $2.1 Billion (Early May)

14. South/Central/Eastern Severe Weather: $1.6 Billion (Late May)

15. Tropical Storm Eta: $1.5 Billion (Early Nov)

16. Southern Severe Weather: $1.4 Billion (Late April)

17. South/East/Northeast Severe Weather: $1.4 Billion (Early Feb)

18. South Texas Hail Storms: $1.4 Billion (May 27)

19. Southeast Tornadoes/Northern Storms & Flooding: $1.2 Billion (Mid Jan)

20. Central Severe Weather: $1.2 Billion (Mid July)

21. Hurricane Hanna: $1.1 Billion (Late July)

22. Central/Southern/Eastern Severe Weather: $1 Billion (April)

Florida was impacted by Hurricane Sally and Tropical Storm Eta. Sally made landfall in Alabama, but brought feet of rain to the Panhandle. Eta made two landfalls as a tropical storm in the Sunshine State, one in South Florida, the other near Cedar Key on the Gulf Coast.

In total there were 262 deaths from the 22 disasters. The average annual billion-dollar disasters from 1980-2020 is 7. Over the past five years, however the average has jumped to 16.2 disasters.


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