All Weather News

BREAKING: Record 22 Billion Dollar Disasters in 2020

9 Jan 2021, 9:00 am


The frequency of billion dollar disasters has been rising in the past decade. 2020 has now set the bar even higher. A record-shattering twenty two events were classified as billion dollar disasters in 2020, blowing past the old record of sixteen, and affecting nearly every part of the country. The disasters spanned four categories. From drought and wildfires, to an extreme number of severe weather outbreaks and hurricanes.

NOAA Applied Climatologist Adam Smith helped compile and analyze the data. “What really struck me was that we had 7 separate billion dollar tropical cyclones. The previous record was 4, in 2004 and 2005… it is not typical to have a record number of tropical cyclones and a record number of severe storm events in the same year. That is an anomaly. Hopefully that never happens again.”

The costliest event of the year was major Hurricane Laura. The category 4 storm slammed into coastal Louisiana, doing more than 19 billion dollars of damage.

The fall firestorms in the western U.S. were number two.

Rounding out the top 3 is the August derecho, causing more than 11 billion dollars in damage, and becoming one of the costliest severe storm events in U.S. history.

Smith adds, “All 22 of these events in total were 95 billion dollars – the 4th highest inflation-adjusted cost year on record.”

Even more notable, when you add up the damage costs from the past 5 years, the total exceeds 600 billion dollars. An average of more than 120 billion per year, and part of a worrisome trend.

“The impacts of more exposure, more vulnerability, where we build, how we build are all going in the wrong direction,” said Smith.

About the author
Karissa is the Director of On-Air Operations at WeatherNation. Karissa grew up loving math and science, but really fell in love with Meteorology while attending the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. After two summers of storm chasing in the central plains, she knew that it was the career path for her. Standing in front of a thunderstorm and feeling the cool outflow knock her over was an e... Load Morexperience she will never forget. After two years at COD, she transferred to Metropolitan State University of Denver. Karissa graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science in Meteorology. Her high school and college speech and meteorology professors were extremely supportive and pushed her to succeed. Before joining the WeatherNation team, she previously worked as the Morning Meteorologist at KCAU-TV in Sioux City, Iowa and at WMBD-TV in Peoria, IL. She recently was part of a National Edward R. Murrow award winning team for breaking news for their coverage of the EF-4 tornado in Washington, Illinois. In her free time, Karissa enjoys cooking and trying new foods. She is a self proclaimed 'TV Junkie' who can get into just about any show. She is a die hard Chicago sports fan who loves attending professional sporting events.