Extreme Weather Cost The US $165 billion in Damages in 2022

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USA weather
USA weather. Source: Shutterstock

Last year saw US communities endure and battle against the growing impacts of the climate crisis, with eighteen major disasters wreaking havoc across the country. The extreme weather and climate disasters caused $165 billion worth of damages, $10 billion more than the previous year, and the third-costliest year on record. These figures highlight the enormity of the economic and societal toll that extreme weather events are already having and the country’s vulnerability to climate disasters in the future. 


According to an annual report, there were eleven severe storm events in 2022 (tornados, high winds, hail storms and a derecho), three tropical cyclones (Ian, Fiona and Nicole), the Kentucky/Missouri flooding, the December Central and Eastern winter storm/cold wave, the Western and Central drought and the Western wildfires. Nearly every state in the US experienced at least one billion-dollar event in 2022, which led to the total death of 474 people. 


Since 2016, there have been 122 separate billion-dollar weather and climate events that have killed more than 5,000 people and cost the US more than $1 trillion in damages. 2022 has added to this trend of hyperactive disaster years, according to NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), with the US seeing more intense and severe weather in the past few years than NOAA has ever documented in its historical record, which stretches back to 1851. 


While it is not unusual for the US to experience phenomena like storms and wildfires, scientists have repeatedly warned that, over the years, global heating is supercharging the impacts of them. More intense bursts of rainfall, for example, from a warming, moisture-laden atmosphere is contributing to more extreme flooding, while the heat itself is drying out vegetation and drying up major reservoirs across the Western half of the US, leading to more damaging wildfires and droughts. 


There is also evidence that the climate crisis is magnifying the strength of hurricanes that batter the eastern states. Hurricane Ian, which slammed into Florida in September last year, became the deadliest storm to hit America since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It caused $112.9 billion in economic damages, making it the third costliest hurricane on record.


In recent decades, there have been some advances in forecasting these dangerous conditions. Warning systems are in place, including public sirens and smartphones receiving warning notifications, to alert residents of approaching storms. Better evacuation processes and the building of more resilient infrastructure to withstand the impacts of the extreme weather have also been implemented.


However, while these may provide some damage limitation, the escalating disasters amplified by the climate crisis are outpacing the response. The disasters are occurring more frequently and hammering much harder compared to just 40 years ago, which hampers the country’s ability and resources to recover, repair and prepare for the next beating. 


Many are asking the government to do more to help limit the impact of the climate crisis, with some hope seen last summer with the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act. This

The Act will push at least $370 billion to ramp up renewable energy projects and encourage people to use less gas. 


Incentives are an important tool to get people on board with an idea or to encourage them to do something. You only have to walk around a supermarket and see all the deals you would get if you signed up for a loyalty card. Or let’s say you enjoy playing online casino games, and you come across the latest no deposit bonus 2023 deals encouraging you to spin the wheel one more time – the principle is very similar, and it works. So, it isn’t really a surprise that governments around the world, including the US, are also trying to create important incentives for clean energy and equity-centered environmental investments in a bid to cut emissions and limit the impact of the climate crisis. 

While these incentives are a step in the right direction, the challenge continues to grow. Scientists insist that in order to avoid catastrophic climate impacts, emissions must be cut in half this decade globally, and be zeroed out completely by 2050. However, with the latest emission figures showing that there was in fact a rise in 2022, an increase of 1.3% from 2021, some believe we are moving in the wrong direction. 

The hope is that 2023 will prove to have more significant emissions reductions that will accelerate once the incentives kick in. Until then, like many countries around the world, the US needs to remain braced and ready for what climate crisis induced weather will batter their shores next.

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