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U.S. Breaks Climate Record with 23 Billion-Dollar Disasters This Year

U.S. Breaks Climate Record with 23 Billion-Dollar Disasters This Year

In just the first eight months of 2023, the United States has witnessed 23 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, shattering previous records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Even with four months left, 2023 has already surpassed the previous annual record of 22 events set in 2020. The grim tally includes 18 severe weather events, two devastating flooding incidents, one tropical cyclone (Hurricane Idalia), one devastating wildfire occurrence and one catastrophic winter storm event.

A map of the U.S. plotted with 23 weather and climate disasters each costing $1 billion or more that occurred between January and August, 2023.
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

These disasters have caused 253 direct and indirect fatalities and amassed over $57.6 billion in damages.

August alone saw the confirmation of seven other billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, including Hurricane Idalia, the most powerful storm to hit Florida’s Big Bend region in over a century, and the devastating wildfire that engulfed Hawaii, claiming at least 115 lives, with dozens still missing.

Experts attribute the increase in the number and cost of these disasters to a combination of factors, including the rising frequency of extreme weather events and population growth in vulnerable areas, such as coastal and low-lying areas.

“These record-breaking numbers, during a year that is on track to be one of the hottest ever, are sobering and the latest confirmation of a worsening trend in costly disasters, many of which bear the undeniable fingerprints of climate change,” said Rachel Cletus of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The year is far from over, with the busiest part of the hurricane season just getting underway, making it likely that these numbers will climb further.”

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