From hurricanes to wildfires to hail, the United States experienced another above-average year of catastrophic weather events in 2022. In fact, eighteen weather disasters inflicted losses exceeding $1 billion, one of which topped $100 billion.
These billion-dollar (and multi-billion-dollar) weather and climate disasters killed at least 474 people, led by Hurricane Ian, a massive Category 5 storm that slammed into Florida in September. The relentless drought and heatwave conditions that baked much of the country throughout the year, also resulted in considerable losses.
The number of these costly climate events, adjusted for inflation, averaged 7.9 per year from 1980 to 2022. But in the most recent five-year period, that average has more than doubled, to 17.8 per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Here are the deadliest billion-dollar weather disasters in U.S. history.)
To identify the 18 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the United States in 2022, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters database of the NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The NCEI has been tracking the inflation-adjusted cost of these disasters since 1980, using the consumer price index, or CPI, to adjust for inflation. The NCEI data combines public and private peer-reviewed disaster loss data to provide a historical record of these events as well as to quantify their direct costs.
Last year saw extreme storm activity in the central and southern regions of the contiguous United States, including massive weather systems that dumped hail in Texas, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, inflicting billions of dollars of damage. (Not all states experience as many natural disasters. In fact, California has had more weather disasters than any other state in the last decade.)
Out of these 18 expensive climate disasters, 11 are categorized as severe storms, meaning heavy precipitation over short periods of time, high wind gusts, and tornadoes, including more than 100 twisters that broke out over two days in April in the southeast.
Three hurricanes in 2022 caused between $1 billion and $113 billion in damage, mostly in Florida, while a stalled storm system over parts of Missouri and Kentucky in July turned creeks into raging, debris-laden torrents that killed at least 42 people and resulted in nearly $1.5 billion in damage.