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Climate Adaptation

Record Number of $1 Billion Disasters Hit the U.S. in 2020

  • Climate change ‘fingerprints’ seen in disasters, NOAA says
  • Hurricane Laura was costliest calamity of year at $19 billion
A destroyed storefront after Hurricane Laura made landfall in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Aug. 27, 2020.
A destroyed storefront after Hurricane Laura made landfall in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Aug. 27, 2020.Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

California fires, Atlantic hurricanes and a Midwest windstorm were among a record number of $1 billion disasters that hit the U.S. last year, highlighting the intensifying threat of climate change, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The agency tracked 22 billion-dollar calamities in 2020, surpassing the old record of 16 set in 2017 and 2011. Losses reached $95 billion, making last year the fourth costliest since 1980, NOAA said in a report Friday.