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NOAA releases updated report on 2021 billion-dollar disasters

More Frequent Disasters
More Frequent Disasters (Climate Central)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday released an updated list of the billion-dollar disasters so far for 2021 — which is already tracking well above the historical average of seven events per year.

The new October release reflects on our summer extremes, droughts, relentless wildfires and devastating tropical cyclones.

Last year, the United States saw a record-breaking 22 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, costing a combined $99 billion in damages.

Between 1980 and 2021, Florida has seen 25 tropical cyclones, 18 severe storms, five freezes, four wildfires, seven droughts, two floods and five winter storms that were billion-dollar disasters.

Some of the largest billion-dollar disasters in Florida, according to NOAA, include the following:

  • Hurricane Irma (2017), costing $54.5 billion
  • Hurricane Michael (2018), costing $26.5 billion
  • Hurricane Sally (2020), costing $7.6 billion
  • Tropical Storm Eta (2020), costing $1.5 billion
Storm surge floodwaters from Hurricane Irma pound a condominium along the St. Johns River in the Five Points neighborhood Sept. 11, 2017, in Jacksonville. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

A Climate Central report shows that the average time between billion-dollar disasters has dropped from 82 days in the 1980s to 26 days in the 2010s. In the last five years (2016-2020), there have been just 18 days on average between billion-dollar disasters.

This is projected to increase further with rising global temperatures, putting a strain on the resources available.

Less time between disasters means less time for resources to be available to respond, recover and prepare for future events.

Globally, the highest costs have resulted when multiple events occur in the same region and season, as in the Atlantic hurricane seasons of 2005 and 2017 (Raymond et al., 2020). According to NOAA, these two seasons resulted in more than 5,000 U.S. lives lost and over $520 billion in combined economic losses from billion-dollar tropical cyclones.

The last five years alone account for nearly a third (31.8%) of the $1.98 trillion in total costs of billion-dollar disasters nationwide since 1980.

As of July 9, this year’s toll was already 331 lives lost and $29.4 billion in damages.

NOAA on Friday released an updated list of the billion-dollar disasters so far for 2021 — which is already tracking well above the historical average of seven events per year.
NOAA on Friday released an updated list of the billion-dollar disasters so far for 2021 — which is already tracking well above the historical average of seven events per year.

About the Author:

Danielle forecasts the weather on the weekends and reports on climate, environment and other issues during the week