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A Record Number of Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters Hit the U.S. in 2023

In 2023, the U.S. experienced a record 25 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters — three more than the previous record, set in 2020.

As greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, extreme events — hurricanes, severe storms, heavy rainfall, flooding, wildfires, extreme heat, and drought — are becoming ever more frequent, intense, and dangerous. Between 1980 and 2022, the U.S averaged eight billion-dollar weather disasters each year, according to NOAA. Between 2018 and 2022, it recorded 18 such disasters on average. This year saw an unprecedented 25 billion-dollar disasters.

Not surprisingly, the average time between billion-dollar disasters has dramatically shrunk. In the 1980s, according to an analysis of government data by Climate Central, there was an average of 82 days between such disasters. Between 2018 and 2022, with more carbon in the atmosphere and more people and property in harm’s way, the lull between billion-dollar disasters dropped to an average of just 18 days. In the first eleven months of 2023, that lull was just 10 days.

Today’s climate impacts reflect around 1.1 degrees C of global warming, said Climate Central, noting that impacts worsen with every bit of additional warming. But “if we commit to rapid and sustained cuts in carbon pollution, it could set younger generations on a path toward a far safer future with less warming and fewer risky extreme events.”

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