Skip to content

Billion-Dollar Climate Disasters: Costs in Lives and Dollars at New High

“Fueled by climate change, extreme weather set records this year, causing close to $50 billion and the loss of at least 188 lives by early October.”

“Extreme weather will surely have its own chapter in the turbulent history of 2020.

The human and economic toll of Covid-19 was already enormous this fall, when it became clear that 2020 was on track to break the previous record for big weather disasters, fueled in part by climate change.

From the derecho that battered the Midwest with hurricane-force winds to unprecedented wildfires that scorched more than 700,000 acres in Colorado and gave California its worst fire season in history, weather and climate events like these represented only a few line items in the latest tally of the nation’s billion-dollar disasters.

Adam Smith, an applied climatologist at the National Centers for Environmental Information’s Center for Weather and Climate, said that final numbers won’t be available until early next year. But preliminary data show that by early October, the United States had experienced 16 billion-dollar extreme weather disasters, tying 2011 and 2017 for the record. With three months to go, key data for some tropical cyclones had not yet been added to the tally.”

Judy Fahys reports for Inside Climate News December 29, 2020.