The U.S. experienced 23 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the first eight months of 2023 — the largest number since records began.
Driving the news: “With approximately four months still left in the year, 2023 has already surpassed the previous record of 22 events seen in all of 2020,” per a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) accompanying its report on the disasters Monday.
By the numbers: The 23 events include:
Threat level: “These events caused 253 direct and indirect fatalities and produced more than $57.6 billion in damages (Consumer Price Index (CPI)-adjusted),” per NOAA’s report.
Zoom in: Among the billion-dollar disasters confirmed this month was Hawai’i’s catastrophic wildfires, which have killed at least 115 people. One month on, dozens remain missing.
The big picture: The cost and frequency of extreme weather and climate disasters has increased in recent years.
Thought bubble, via Axios’ Andrew Freedman: An increase in the number and cost of disasters likely reflects both trends in extreme weather events and population growth, including in vulnerable areas with certain hazards — such as coastal and other low-lying areas. This latter factor is thought to be more significant to date.
Of note: The U.S. has experienced 371 separate weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages or costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2023), per NOAA.
What we’re watching: “Other potential billion-dollar events from 2023 that are still under review include Tropical Storm Hilary that impacted southern California and the Southern/Midwestern drought,” according to NOAA.
What they’re saying: “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, in a statement Monday.