The U.S. has already seen a record number of billion-dollar weather disasters this year, according to the latest numbers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The agency says there have been 23 weather and climate disasters nationwide in 2023 that caused losses in excess of $1 billion.
Only one of the events — Hurricane Idalia — was due to tropical cyclone activity. There have been two flooding events, a wildfire event in Maui and one winter storm event. The remaining 18 cases have been "severe weather events," which include severe weather like high winds, heavy hail and tornadoes.
As a whole, these disasters have caused nearly $58 billion in losses. 253 people have died as a direct or indirect result of the events.
The previous record was in 2020, when there were 22 events that caused more than $1 billion in damage each. 2023's ultimate record may be somewhere higher — NOAA updated its records in September, with a quarter of the year still to go.
There has been a steady upward trend in the number of qualifying disasters since the early 2000s. NOAA cautions that costs over time do not necessarily account for the full effects of forces like inflation. But the agency does say the changing climate has increased the frequency of some weather extremes that can contribute to these billion-dollar losses.
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