A press release
issued Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chronicles 2018's billion-dollar weather disasters. So far, there have been six such events with another two under investigation. Two winter storms and four severe thunderstorm outbreaks have caused an estimated seven billion dollars in damage this year. The events that are still under investigation include the Colorado hail storms of June 18-19 and the South Texas flooding of June 18-21.
Over the last four decades, the number of billion-dollar weather disasters has been on the rise. Looking at data
from NOAA, the number of costly weather disasters increased 246% between the 1980s decade and the 2010s decade. Between 1980 and 1989, there were 28 billion-dollar weather disasters. Between 2010 and 2018, there have been 97 billion-dollar weather disasters. For the entire period between 1980 and 2018, there have been a total of 233 such disasters totaling over 1.5 trillion dollars (cost adjusted for inflation) in damage.
Due to the increased frequency of billion-dollar disasters, it is perhaps more difficult to remember the specific weather events of the 2010s. Many people may not remember the severe drought of 2012, the eastern snowstorm of January 2014, or the Colorado hail storm of May 2017. A staggering 31 weather disasters occurred during 2016 and 2017---more than the entire 1980s decade combined!
During the 1980s and 1990s, however, many disastrous weather events are easily recalled. Large weather events are more memorable during that era because there are fewer to remember. For example, the U.S. Drought and Summer Heatwave of 1988 and Hurricane Hugo in September 1989 are standout weather events of the 1980s. Many people remember the "Storm of the Century" during the winter of 1993 and the Midwest summer flooding of 1993. All of these events are considered billion-dollar disasters. Of course, major hurricanes such as Katrina, Ike, Harvey, and Maria are all very memorable as of late.
Based on current trends, the threat for more billion-dollar disasters in 2018 is far from over. This is why it is very important to be prepared for all types of weather. Know what to do and have a severe weather action plan in place....just in case.
- Meteorologist Joe Astolfi