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Tue Jan 12, 2021, 07:32 AM

22 Disasters, 262 Dead, $95B in Damages: 2020 Set Records for US Climate Mayhem

17 hours ago
22 Disasters, 262 Dead, $95B in Damages: 2020 Set Records for US Climate Mayhem
As if last year weren’t bad enough.
Oliver Milman
This story was originally published in the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The US was battered by a record number of weather and climate-driven disasters in 2020 as extensive wildfires scorched the west, hurricanes in quick succession pummeled the east and extreme heat swept across the heart of the country, a new federal government report has shown.

A total of 22 major disasters, defined as each causing at least $1bn in damage, swept the US last year, six more than the previous record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

At least 262 people died, with $95bn in total damages recorded, the federal agency reported on Friday.

The year was marked by punishing extremes on both the east and west coasts. It was the most active wildfire year on record in the US west, with California recording five of the six biggest fires in its history, an outbreak that destroyed thousands of homes and caused the sky to turn an apocalyptic orange over the San Francisco Bay Area.

A total of 10.3m acres burned in wildfires in 2020 across the US west, an area larger than Maryland and well above this century’s average.



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