The deadly firestorm in Hawaii and Hurricane Idalia’s watery storm surge helped push the United States to a record for the number of weather disasters that cost $1 billion or more. And there’s still four months to go on what’s looking more like a calendar of calamities.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that there have been 23 weather extreme events in America that cost at least $1 billion this year through August, eclipsing the year-long record total of 22 set in 2020. So far this year’s disasters have cost more than $57.6 billion and claimed at least 253 lives.
And NOAA’s count doesn’t yet include Tropical Storm Hilary’s damages in hitting California and a deep drought that has struck the South and Midwest because those costs are still to be totaled, said Adam Smith, the NOAA applied climatologist and economist who tracks the billion-dollar disasters.
“We’re seeing the fingerprints of climate change all over our nation,” Smith said in an interview Monday. “I would not expect things to slow down anytime soon.”