Updated Oct 12, 2022 - Energy & Environment
Hurricane Ian brings billion-dollar disasters this year well above average
Hurricanes Fiona and Ian were the latest in a torrent of 15 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters to strike the U.S. so far this year, according to new NOAA data.
The big picture: The cost and frequency of extreme weather and climate disasters have increased in recent years.
- According to Climate Central, a research and communications nonprofit, the frequency of billion-dollar weather disasters is now about one event every 18 days.
- This compares to 82 days between such disasters in the 1980s, Climate Central found.
- The list of 2022 billion-dollar disasters includes a derecho, or long-lived severe thunderstorm complex producing damaging winds, that swept across the Midwest. A tornado outbreak in April in Georgia and South Carolina also made the cut.
- Typically, hurricanes are the costliest type of weather and climate-related disasters, followed by droughts.
Zoom in: Early estimates from Hurricane Ian damage surveys indicate it was one of the costliest storms in U.S. history, with insured losses of $53 billion to $74 billion.
- After the two hurricanes and the wildfires are included, the 2022 disaster toll through the end of September will likely exceed $100 billion.
Between the lines: NOAA data shows that each decade since the 1980s has experienced more billion-dollar disasters and higher costs than the decade before.
- Much of the increase in damage costs is related to population growth in vulnerable areas, such as the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast. This gives storms, many of which are worsened by climate change, a bigger bullseye to target.
Go deeper: Read the NOAA report
Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.