Superstorm Sandy hurricane damage
Superstorm Sandy damage in East Haven, Connecticut. Photo: Courtesy of David McCarthy.

In the U.S. last year, 16 weather-related disasters – including hurricanes, wildfires, and floods – each caused at least a billion dollars in damage.

NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has been tracking the cost of weather-related events for nearly 40 years. In that time, no year has seen more billion-dollar disasters than 2017, even after adjusting for inflation.

No year has seen more billion-dollar disasters than 2017, even after adjusting for inflation. Click To Tweet

But it was not an outlier. On average, these events are getting more frequent. Eight of the nine years with the greatest number of billion-dollar disasters have occurred within the past decade.

Smith: “Climate change is playing a role in increasing the frequency and intensity of some types of these extreme weather events and climate events that lead to billion-dollar disasters.”

That’s NOAA climatologist Adam Smith. He says that droughts, wildfires and inland floods are expected to get more severe. And with sea-level rise and more extreme storms, coastal areas are increasingly vulnerable.

So he says cities and states need to prepare now because billion-dollar disasters are likely to become even more common in the future.

Smith: “Our vulnerability has increased and the costs continue to rise.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Filed under: