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Extreme Weather Events Post Big Damage Cost Numbers Already in 2024

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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The total of $11-billion weather and climate disaster events so far in 2024 is greater than many yearly totals since 1980. (NOAA/NCEI graphic)

As much of the United States gets set for intense heat this week, clean-up and recovery efforts from the volatile and damaging spring continue. The monthly report from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) shows 2024 is quickly moving up the ranks when it comes to weather and climate disaster events with a damage cost of $1 billion or more.

The NOAA/NCEI report shows the month of May 2024 had four new $1 billion weather and climate disasters confirmed. The $1 billion threshold events that either occurred or were confirmed in May are: two tornado events that affected the central, southern and eastern U.S. at the end of April and beginning of May; one severe weather event that hit the central and eastern U.S. at the end of February; and a derecho event that affected portions of the South in mid-May.

The total for the year through the first five months already stands at 11 $1-billion disasters. That five-month total is higher than many annual totals since $1 billion weather and climate disaster tracking began in 1980. The NOAA/NCEI report noted the total cost of the 11 events is at least $25 billion, and they have resulted in at least 84 fatalities. Nine extreme storm events and two winter storm events make up the 2024 total of 11 for January through May.

For more perspective, the year 2024 already has more $1-billion confirmed weather and climate disasters than each of the entire years from 1980-1997. The 2024 total is equal to the entire year 1998. It exceeds the total for the entire year from 1999-2007, along with the entire year's total in 2009 and 2010. The 2024 total is also equal to the entire year's number in 2012 and 2015, and more than the total for the year in 2013 and 2014.

The 11 $1-billion events so far in 2024 do not exceed recent history. That's because the past 10 years have seen the number of $1 billion weather and climate disasters continue to occur in unheard of numbers just 10 years ago. NOAA/NCEI notes that the 1980-2023 annual average is 8.5 events (Consumer Price Index adjusted). But the annual average for the most recent five years (2019-23) is 20.4 events (CPI-adjusted).

The NOAA/NCEI tracking of $1-billion weather and climate disasters shows that the U.S. " has sustained 387 separate weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2024). The total cost of these 387 events exceeds $2.740 trillion." The yearly record for billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events was set just last year with 28 events in 2023. NOAA/NCEI climate scientist Adam Smith noted in a blog post on Jan. 8 that losses from these large events from 2017 to 2023 "are more than $1 trillion and have further skewed the total distribution of extreme weather costs." One-billion-dollar damage events now make up more than 85% of all U.S. disaster-related costs in the 1980-2023 period.

The full NCEI May climate summary and the $1 billion disaster report are available here:….

Bryce Anderson can be reached at


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