New government data released Monday showed that the U.S. has already seen more billion-dollar weather disasters in 2023 than in any year since authorities began collecting such data more than 40 years ago.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agreed 23 weather events From January to August, that cost at least $1 billion, surpassing the previous record of 22 for all of 2020. NOAA has been tracking these numbers since 1980.
These events caused “253 direct and indirect deaths and caused more than $57.6 billion in damages.” said NOAA notes in its report that the number could increase as more events are included.
“Other potentially billion-dollar 2023 events still under review include Tropical Storm Hilary, which struck Southern California, and the South/Midwest drought,” the report continued. Hilary was the first ever tropical storm warning issued in the region.
In total, the billion-dollar disasters include 18 major storms, two floods, a tropical cyclone, a winter storm and the deadly wildfire that hit Maui last month. A staggering 115 people died in the fire, with more than 100 others still missing.
Scientists warn that these types of weather events will become more frequent and extreme as global temperatures rise due to humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels. According to European scientists, last July was the hottest month on record, with an average of 62.51 degrees Fahrenheit for the month. Researchers say there is very high probability that by the end of 2023 will be the warmest year on record.
Although 2023 saw a high number of weather disasters worth billions, it is still far behind 2017 in terms of total costs. This year, a deadly combination of back-to-back hurricanes and a massive wildfire season caused $383 billion in damages in California.
NOAA also released data on August temperatures Monday, ranking August as the ninth hottest August in 129 years. However, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi “all experienced their hottest August on record,” the agency said.