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Billion-Dollar Disasters in 2023 Broke US Records, Claimed 492 Lives

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) released its 2023 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters report at the end of 2023. It found 2023 a “historic year” for costly disasters and weather extremes in the US. 

Billion-Dollar Disasters
  1. The NCEI report identified 28 billion-dollar “weather and climate disasters” for the year, topping the prior record of 22 billion-dollar disasters set in 2020.

  2. The total estimated 2023 cost of these disasters is $92.9 billion. This may be adjusted upward when late-year East Coast storms are included.

  3. The 28 billion-dollar disasters in 2023 also took at least 492 human lives, either directly or indirectly. This makes 2023 the eighth most deadly for the contiguous US since 1980.

  4. The disasters of 2023 included the tragic wildfires in Maui, Hawaii, and two “tornado outbreaks” that pummeled central and eastern US.

  5. In addition, there were two tropical cyclones—Hurricane Idalia in Florida and Typhoon Mawar in Guam—and 17 “severe weather/hail events” in many areas of the country. 

  6. The US also recorded one drought/heat wave event centered in central and southern portions of the nation. This drought and heat wave event was the costliest 2023 disaster, totaling $14.5 billion.

  7. Since the initiation of such records in 1980, the US has recorded 376 “weather and climate disasters” with costs of $1 billion or more—with a total price tag of more than $2.660 trillion.

  8. The annual average from 1980–2023 is 8.5 events (CPI-adjusted); however, the annual average for the past five years (2019–2023) is 20.4 such events (CPI-adjusted).

  9. The last seven years (2017–2023) have seen 137 separate billion-dollar disasters with a total death toll of approximately 5,500 people.



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