Hurricane Ian, the worst drought in a decade and a pre-Christmas winter storm pushed last year’s damage from severe weather to the highest level since 2017.

DENVER — Costly weather disasters continued to hit America last year, with 18 extreme climate disasters hitting the country, each causing at least $1 billion in damage each, for a total of more than $165 billion, federal climate scientists estimated Tuesday.

While 2022 was nowhere near the hottest year on record for the United States, it was the nation’s third wildest year for both the number of extreme weather events costing $1 billion and the total damage from those weather disasters. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration according to a report published at a conference of the American Meteorological Society.

Number, cost and death toll a billion dollar disasters is the key inflation-adjusted measurement NOAA uses to see how bad things are human-induced climate change becomes They resulted in at least 474 deaths.

Hurricane Jan, the costliest drought in a decade and a a pre-Christmas winter storm Last year’s damage was the highest since 2017, according to federal meteorologists. The only costlier years were 2017 — when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit — and the disastrous 2005, when multiple hurricanes, led by Katrina, slammed into the Southeast, federal meteorologists said. The only busier years for billion-dollar disasters were 2020 and 2021.

Ian was the third costliest hurricane in the U.S. with $112.9 billion in damage, followed by $22.2 billion in damage from the drought in the West and Midwest stopped barge traffic on the Mississippi River, officials said. The $165 billion total for 2022 doesn’t even include the winter storm total from three weeks ago, which could push it to $170 billion, officials said.

“Climate change is making many of these extreme disasters more likely to cause billion-dollar disasters,” said NOAA climate scientist and economist Adam Smith, who calculates catastrophes by updating them to take out inflation. He said more people are building unsafely, along expensive coasts and rivers, and the lack of strict building standards is also a problem. He said with much of the development on the beach, real estate inflation could be a small, localized factor.

“The United States has some of the most consistently diverse and intense weather and climate extremes you will see in many parts of the world. And we have a large population that is vulnerable to these extremes,” Smith told The Associated Press. “So there’s really an imbalance right now.”

Climate change is a factor that’s hard to ignore in extremes, from deadly heatwaves to droughts and floods, Smith and other officials said.

“The risk of extreme events is increasing, and they are affecting every corner of the world,” said NOAA Chief Scientist Sarah Kapnick.

The problem is especially acute when it comes to dangerous heat, said NOAA climatologist Stephanie Herring, who edits an annual study in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that tallies how many extreme weather events have occurred in past years. worsened by climate change.

“Research shows that these extreme heat events are also likely to become the new normal,” Herring told a weather conference.

According to Smith, since about 2016, the U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in the size and number of high-cost extreme acts. Over the past seven years, 121 billion-dollar weather events have caused more than $1 trillion in damage and claimed more than 5,000 lives.

Those years overshadow what happened in the 1980s, 1990s or 2000s. For example, in the entire decade of the 1990s, there were 55 different multi-billion dollar disasters that cost a total of $313 billion and claimed 3,062 lives.

“It’s not just one, but many, many different types of extreme events across much of the country,” Smith said. “If there were extremes on the Bingo map, we’ve almost filled the map over the last few years.”

There were nine billion-dollar non-tropical storms in 2022, including a derecho, three hurricanes, two tornado outbreaks, one flood, one winter storm, a megadrought, and costly wildfires. The only common type of weather event missing was freezes, which caused $1 billion or more in crop damage, Smith said. And last month, Florida came close, but missed it by a degree or two and some preventative measures by farmers, he said.

That averted freeze was one of two “silver linings” in the 2022 extremes, Smith said. The second was that the wildfire season, while costing well over $1 billion, was not as severe as in years past, except New Mexico and Texas, he said.

For the first 11 months of 2022, California experienced the second driest year on record, but wet with atmospheric river which began in December, was just the ninth driest year in California history, NOAA climate monitoring chief Karyn Gleason said.

For the third year in a row a La Nina A cooling of the eastern Pacific Ocean, which tends to alter weather patterns around the world, and moderate global warming, 2022 was only the 18th warmest year on record for the U.S., Gleason said.

“It’s been a warm year, certainly above average for most of the country, but nothing off the charts,” Gleason said. The average temperature in the country was 53.4 degrees (11.9 degrees Celsius), which is 1.4 degrees (0.8 degrees) higher than the average for the 20th century.

The year was 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) below normal for rain and snow, the 27th driest in 128 years, Gleason said.

On Thursday, NOAA and NASA will announce how hot the globe has been in 2022, which won’t be a record-breaking year but will likely rank among the seven or so hottest years on record. The European climate monitoring group Copernicus published its calculations on Tuesday, saying 2022 was the fifth hottest year in the world and the second hottest in Europe.

U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, which trap heat and cause global warming, will rise 1.3% in 2022, according to a report released Tuesday by the Rhodium Group think tank. This is less than the economy grew. The increase in emissions was driven by cars, trucks and industry, with electricity generation polluting slightly less.

For the second year in a row since the lockdown was eased, America’s carbon pollution is rising after a fairly steady decline for several years. This makes it less likely that the United States will achieve it his pledge cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, the Rhodium report said.

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