The United States has hit its 10th billion-dollar weather disaster earlier than any other year, making 2020 the sixth consecutive year with at least 10 extreme weather events — also a record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The 10 storms have tormented the US with tornadoes, damaging winds and hail. Seven of the 10 storms occurred in the South or Southeast, including three tornado outbreaks. The Easter Sunday outbreak alone saw 190 tornadoes tear across the region, killing 36 people.
Americans might see more severe storms this year than ever before, according to Adam Smith, a climatologist at NOAA.
Since 1980, the US has averaged close to seven billion-dollar weather disasters annually. But the last five years have seen nearly 14 severe storms on average. There will be more this year if the current pace continues, according to NOAA.
“The big story is the fact that we haven’t even gotten to the hyperactive hurricane season, which is widely predicted in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Ocean states,” said Smith. “We also haven’t gotten to the wildfire season out West. For California, particularly Northern California, Oregon and Washington, the wildfire season could be another strong season.”
Because the South is still recovering from the billion-dollar disasters earlier this year, there is concern that the region could be particularly vulnerable to an active hurricane season.
With much of the US currently in drought, wildfires are becoming a major concern. Fires have ravaged the country in recent years. The 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, burned over 150,000 acres and killed at least 85 people.
The year before, Hurricane Harvey inflicted catastrophic damage on Houston and the Texas and Louisiana coasts when it made landfall as a Category 4 storm.
“The last thing we want is to have another 2017 or 2018 type of year in the fall, where we have these historically damaging and costly hurricanes and wildfires. And there is potential for that,” Smith said.