In 2019, the United States experienced 14 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion each and totaling approximately $45 billion, according to a NOAA report released January 8, 2020. At least 44 people died and many more were injured during the course of these disasters.
2019 is the fifth consecutive year in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events have occurred in the U.S. Over the last 40 years (1980-2019), the years with 10 or more separate billion-dollar disaster events include 1998, 2008, 2011-2012, and 2015-2019. The total cost of these 258 events, NOAA reported, exceeds $1.75 trillion.
The billion-dollar disasters in 2019 included:
– 1 wildfire event (affecting multiple areas in Alaska and California)
– 3 inland floods (affecting the Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers)
– 8 severe storms
According to NOAA, the extreme weather with the most widespread impact was the historically persistent and destructive U.S. flooding across more than 15 states. The combined cost of just the Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi River basin flooding ($20 billion) was almost half of the U.S. cost total in 2019.
Here’s more from NOAA on U.S. billion-dollar climate/weather disasters since 1980:
During the 2010s, the nation saw a trend of an increasing number of billion-dollar inland flooding events. Even after adjusting for inflation, the U.S. experienced more than twice the number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters during the 2010s (119) as compared with the 2000s (59).
The billion-dollar disaster damage costs over the last decade (2010-2019) for the U.S. were also historically large – costs exceeded $800 billion from 119 separate billion-dollar events.
Since 1980, the U.S. has sustained 258 billion-dollar disasters overall that have exceeded $1.75 trillion in total damages.
Bottom line: In 2019, there were 14 billion-dollar climate/weather disasters in the United States.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as an EarthSky.org Editor, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She and her husband live in Tennessee, where they enjoy guitar playing and singing. They have 2 grown sons.