AUSTIN (KXAN) — Severe weather is becoming more expensive across the country, according to a recent report from the National Centers for Environmental Information. In 2022, there were 18 weather and climate events where losses totaled $1 billion dollars each. This places 2022 in third place for the costliest year with cumulative losses adding up to $160 billion dollars.
The NCEI is responsible for collecting data when severe weather occurs and putting this information into historical perspective. One of its main roles is to track and evaluate what their impact is on the economy and society. Included in their area of responsibility is tracking extremes for precipitation and temperatures.
These numbers, using data from a dozen public and private sectors, are the estimated total dollars these catastrophic events cost or how much the price tag would be if nothing had ever happened. The costs take into account both the insured and the uninsured.
The 2022 disasters included three hail storms, three tropical cyclones … Fiona, Ian, and Nicole … and two tornado outbreaks. One flood event and one drought along with one major snow event are also included in this group of 18. The combined total dollars of this group is $165 billion dollars. This, too, was in third place for the most expensive major storms ever.
One of those events happened in Texas when, on Feb. 21 and 22, severe thunderstorms in North Texas west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex dropped hail averaging an inch to two inches. Total losses exceeding $1 billion dollars were reported in Denton, Jack, Parker, Wise, and Young Counties. The dollar amount here comes mainly from insurance companies’ estimates.
NCEI also reported 474 deaths from all these disasters. Just like the number of events and the dollar amount, this stat also places third for the most fatalities from storm-related incidents.
The report also included data going back to 1980 when the NCEI was known as the National Climatic Data Center. Between 1980 and 2021, some 323 weather and climate disasters have recorded. That’s 7.7 per year. Total price tag? $2.31 trillion dollars. More than 15,000 people lost their lives from these disasters, an average of 368. That average went up in 2022 with the aforementioned 474 deaths.
The damage estimates are all encompassing including physical damage to buildings, roads, bridges and other public assets, losses in agriculture, damage to vehicles and various types of watercrafts, electrical infrastructure and offshore energy platforms. These dollar estimates are a conservative estimation gleaned from insurance companies as well as organizations like the National Weather Service and FEMA.
With the changing climate, it seems like more and more of these events have been happening each year. Moving forward it stands to reason that with our ever-changing climate these costly events will continue to increase.