AP New's Seth Borenstein is reporting that NOAA has release it's 2022 US weather extremes assessment and it's not good.  

The article illustrates that 2022 saw costly weather disasters across America with 18 climate extremes that caused at least $1 billion in damage each, totaling more than $165 billion, federal climate scientists calculated Tuesday.

Crazy enough, 2022 was the third year nationally both in number of extremes that cost $1 billion and overall damage from those weather catastrophes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a report issued at the American Meteorological Society’s conference.

The amount, cost and death toll of billion-dollar weather disasters and 474 deaths make up key measurements, adjusted for inflation, that NOAA uses to see how bad human-caused climate change is getting. 

Borenstein reports that Hurricane Ian, a massive and expensive drought and a pre-Christmas winter storm combined to push last year’s damages to the highest since 2017.  The only busier years for billion-dollar disasters were 2020 and 2021.

He reports that Ian was the third costliest U.S. hurricane on record with $112.9 billion in damage, followed by $22.2 billion in damage from a western and midwestern drought that halted barge traffic on the Mississippi River, officials said. The $165 billion total for 2022 doesn’t even include a total yet for the winter storm three weeks ago, which could push it close to $170 billion, officials said.

There are even more staggering statistics: more than 40% of the continental United States was under official drought conditions for 119 straight weeks, a record in the 22 years of the federal drought monitor, easily passing the old mark of 68 straight weeks. The country peaked at 63% of the nation in drought in 2022. 

Why this matters:

The article quotes NOAA's Adam Smith, a NOAA applied climatologist and economist Adam Smith who says it the best: 

“Climate change is supercharging many of these extremes that can lead to billion-dollar disasters,". He illustrated that with more people are also building and developing in the path of major enviormental events - like beachside real estate - that increases that $ damage  created from climate change. 


Climate change is a hard to ignore factor in extremes, from deadly heat to droughts and flooding, Smith and other officials said.

“The risk of extreme events is growing and they are affecting every corner of the world,” NOAA chief scientist Sarah Kapnick said.

Heat is also a major problem according to the article. The problem is especially bad when it comes to dangerous heat, explained NOAA climate scientist Stephanie Herring, who edits an annual study in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that calculates how much of the extreme weather in past years were worsened by climate change.

“Research is showing that these extreme heat events are also likely to become the new normal,” Herring said at the weather conference.

There’s been a dramatic upswing in the size and number of super costly extremes in the U.S. since about 2016, Smith said. In the past seven years, 121 different billion-dollar weather disasters have caused more than $1 trillion in damage and killed more than 5,000 people.

The article underlines that those years show a pattern ofmajor increase from the 1980s, 1990s or 2000s. For example, in the entire decade of the 1990s there were 55 different billion-dollar disasters that cost $313 billion total and claimed 3,062 lives. 

More examples of the extreme weather are given as there were nine billion-dollar non-tropical storms, three hurricanes, two tornado outbreaks, one flood, one winter storm, a megadrought and a costly wildfires. The only general type of weather disaster missing was an icy freeze that causes $1 billion or more in crop damage, Smith said. 

California's drought and flooding whiplash also reported in the article as the state was going through its second driest year on record, but drenchings from an atmospheric river that started in December, turned it to only the ninth driest year on record for California, said NOAA climate monitoring chief Karin Gleason.

With a third straight year of a La Nina cooling the eastern Pacific, which tends to change weather patterns across the globe and moderate global warming, 2022 was only the 18th warmest year in U.S. records, Gleason said.

“It was a warm year certainly above average for most of the country but nothing off the charts,” Gleason said. The nation’s average temperature was 53.4 degrees (11.9 degrees Celsius), which is 1.4 degrees (0.8 degrees) warmer than the 20th century average. The year was 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) below normal for rain and snow, the 27th driest out of 128 years, Gleason said.

The article reports that these patterns show that 2022 would probably be in the top 7 or so hottest years according to NOAA and NASA - who will release additional statistics on Thursday. The European climate monitoring group Copernicus released its calculations Tuesday, saying 2022 was the fifth hottest globally and second hottest in Europe.

The article reports U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — which is what traps heat to cause global warming — rose 1.3% in 2022, according to a report released Tuesday by the Rhodium Group, a think tank. 

Quick 2 second take away: 

Climate Change is a major economic and deadly risk to the US. Extreme weather events are creating major and expesnive damages - money we could be using for other services, initatives and programs. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are increasing which is not great at all.


We have a lot of work to do.  


Source: AP News

Written by Ursa Nova

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