Ag Weather Forum

High-Damage Weather Events Stacking Up in 2023

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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The period January through July saw a record 15 confirmed weather and climate disaster events with losses of more than $1 Billion. The old January-to-July record was 14 disasters in 2017. (NOAA/NCEI graphic)

Extreme weather and climate disasters are adding up -- both in number and in cost. The NOAA National Centers for Environment Information (NCEI) noted in its U.S. Climate Summary for July 2023 that "three new billion-dollar weather and climate disasters were confirmed this month, two of which occurred during the month of June and one during April. All these disasters were severe storm events."

For the year 2023, a total of 15 confirmed weather and climate disaster events, each with losses exceeding $1 billion, have been recorded. The breakdown is 13 severe storm events, one winter storm and one flooding event. For the year-to-date period, the first seven months of 2023 rank the highest on record for disaster count, ahead of 2017 with 14 disasters. The total cost of those 15 events is greater than $39.7 billion. These events have also resulted in 113 direct and indirect fatalities.

A look at the summary of extreme weather and climate disaster events so far in 2023 shows that 13 instances of severe storms were recorded, which caused extensive damage in the central, eastern and southern U.S. Damage descriptions included references to agricultural and farm damage.

The total cost of these weather and climate disasters is mind-boggling. The NOAA/NCEI assessments show that since 1980, there have been 363 separate weather and climate disasters in the U.S. where the overall damages and/or costs either matched or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2023). The total cost of these 363 events is more than $2.590 trillion. The year with the highest total number of billion-dollar damage events was 2020 with 22.

A summary description of how the cost of weather and climate disasters is derived offers details on how these events continue to increase.

"The number and cost of disasters are increasing over time due to a combination of increased exposure (i.e., values at risk of possible loss), vulnerability (i.e., how much damage does the intensity -- wind speed, flood depth -- at a location cause) and that climate change is increasing the frequency of some types of extremes that lead to billion-dollar disasters (National Climate Assessment 2018)," the NOAA/NCEI description said.

The 2020s decade has been one of tremendous damage. The 22 billion-dollar damage events in 2020 produced an estimated total of $116.8 billion in damages. 2021 saw 20 billion-dollar damage events with a total of $159.2 billion in damages. 2022 had 18 billion-dollar damage events with an estimated $177.3 billion in total damages. Add in the estimated "at least" $39.7 billion in the events of 2023, and the total for the first four years of the 2020s in billion-dollar weather event damage is an estimated $493 billion in damage cost.

The full NCEI Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters report is available here:…

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Bryce Anderson

Bryce Anderson
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