The United States was hit by 18 weather and climate disasters costing at least $1 billion in 2022, among the most that have occurred in one year.
A Tuesday release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that last year tied with 2011 and 2017 for the third highest number of billion-dollar disasters in a calendar year, behind 2020 with 22 billion-dollar events and 2021 with 20.
The events in 2022 killed at least 474 people and cost about $165 billion in total, according to NOAA. Last year was the third most costly year for weather and climate disasters on record, trailing 2017 and 2005.
The events that cost at least $1 billion were nine severe weather or hail events, three tropical cyclones, two tornado outbreaks, one winter storm or cold-wave event, one wildfire event, one drought and heat-wave event and one flooding event.
NOAA reported that Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in Florida and killed more than 100 people, was the costliest event last year with $112.9 billion in damages. It was also the third most costly hurricane ever, only behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
NOAA said weather events in aggregate from five of the past six years, all but 2019, have cost at least $100 billion.
NOAA considers 2022 to have been an average but destructive hurricane season, with 14 named storms, including eight hurricanes and two major hurricanes, forming in the North Atlantic Basin. The agency also found that the number of tornadoes last year was about 9 percent more than the average from 1991 to 2020.
Wildfires also took a significant toll on land in the Western United States and Alaska, with the latter having one million acres burned by June 18. That’s the earliest in the calendar that amount has been burned in the past 32 years.
Studies have shown climate change is increasing the intensity of droughts and causing more wildfires. Climate experts have said that warmer ocean temperatures increase the wind speeds and precipitation rates of storms.
A study from the Department of Energy in November found that the world is not close to cutting the amount of emissions necessary to avoid major climate impacts.