Weather disasters caused $145 billion in damage last year in the U.S., says NOAA

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  • In 2021, there were 20 separate billion-dollar weather and climate change disasters, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released Monday.
  • 688 people were killed in those 20 disasters.
  • NOAA said that in December, temperatures in the contiguous 48 states were the highest on record, and 6.7 degrees above average at 39.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Climate change-driven disasters wreak havoc in many ways, causing death and disrupting the lives of entire communities. They also come with a big price tag.

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In 2021, there were 20 different billion dollars Weather and climate change disasters, according to a report by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Released on Monday.

Those 20 disasters killed 688 people and cost $145 billion, of which $75 billion came from Hurricane Ida.

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Global temperature rise is making extreme weather more extreme. NOAA said that in December, temperatures in the contiguous 48 states were the highest on record, and 6.7 degrees above average at 39.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the whole of 2021, the average temperature for the adjacent 48 states was 54.5 degrees Fahrenheit, the fourth warmest year in NOAA’s 127-year record.

NOAA said that the six warmest years on record have occurred since 2012.

Disasters worth billions of dollars in 2021 include:

  • A winter storm/cold wave event in the Deep South and Texas
  • A wildfire event that spread to Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington
  • A drought and heat wave event occurs throughout the summer and fall in the western US
  • Two flooding incidents in California and Louisiana.
  • Three tornado outbreaks, including one unusual outbreak in December (tornado season typically runs into spring and summer)
  • Four tropical cyclones: Elsa, Fred, Ida and Nicolas.
  • Eight other severe weather events (in many parts of the country).

By comparison, there were $22 billion in weather and climate change disasters in 2020, and the total damage from those 22 events was $102 billion.

According to NOAA, over the past five years, from 2017 to 2021, the total cost of these billion-dollar disasters has been $742 billion. This averages out to $148 billion annually.

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