2020 breaks record for number of billion-dollar disasters

First Alert Meteorologist Kalie Pluchel joins us now with a look back at 2020's billion-dollar disasters.
Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 3:35 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The year 2020 was a record-breaking year for weather, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, NOAA, released that the United States had a record number of billion-dollar disasters.

The country saw 22 natural disasters that had more than $1 billion worth of damages, which smashed the previous record of 16 set in 2011 and 2017. This included one wildfire event, one drought event, three tornado outbreaks, seven tropical cyclones, and ten severe weather events.

Hurricane Laura was the costliest natural disaster last year at $19 billion in damages, followed by the Western Wildfires and then the Midwest Derecho which has now caused $11 billion in damages.

Last year’s hurricane season was extremely active, having 30 named tropical cyclones, 12 of which were hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes (which is a Category 3 or higher rated storm). Seven of the 30 tropical cyclones were billion-dollar disasters last year that caused a total damage of $40.1 billion.

It was also the most active year for wildfires. Colorado saw the three largest wildfires in their history and California saw their fifth and sixth largest wildfires in history. In total wildfires burned over 10.3 million acres of land.

And of course, the Midwest Derecho that traveled 770 miles, which impacted areas from South Dakota to Ohio including here in the state of Iowa. 500 damaging wind reports were recorded over multiple states on August 10th. All 22 disasters, at this point, caused $95 billion in damages.

NOAA started recording billion-dollar natural disasters in 1980 and since then the United States has seen 285 natural disasters that have caused more than $1 billion in damages.

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