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2020 breaks record for number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters

22 events costing more than one billion dollars affected the United States according to NOAA.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their analysis on major weather disasters from 2020, revealing another record breaking year when it comes to our weather and climate. A total of 22 events affected the United States, shattering the previous record of 16 events both in 2011 and 2017.

In total, the cost from the 22 events was $95.0 billion. The most costly events were Hurricane Laura, the derecho in the Midwest in August, and Western wildfires. 

The 1980-2020 annual average number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters is 7.0 events, according to NOAA, which is a CPI-adjusted statistic. The annual average for the last five years is 16.2 events.

Credit: NOAA

The disasters of 2020 include notable events that affected South Carolina, including the tornado outbreak of April 12th and 13th and the effects of Hurricane Isaias in August.

These events join an active few years of disasters in South Carolina according to Derrec Becker from SCEMD. 

“Really the last 7 years have probably been the most active in terms of disasters in all of South Carolina starting with the 2014 ice storm, then the flood of 2015, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Hurricane Florence in 2018, Dorian in 2019, then 2020 with the tornado outbreak and coronavirus.”

A report from Climate Central shows that these disasters have increased over the past few decades in South Carolina. 

Credit: Climate Central

Overall in the United States, the number of disasters is increasing over time because of increased exposure and assets at risk to loss, vulnerability, and climate change according to the National Climate Assessment of 2018.

Looking ahead to future severe weather situations, Becker says it’s important to know your risks.

“Looking at what is your community most vulnerable to in terms of am I going to experience an ice storm because I live in the Upstate or a hurricane because I live along the coast.”

Checking over your insurance information and the risks where you live are also vital before an event occurs. And as always, make sure you and your family have a plan.

“Have a plan, make it personal, and customize it to your family and what your family needs and then be ready to act if local public safety officials say you need to take safety precautions.”