The stormy, fiery year when climate disasters wouldn't stop
Nature struck relentlessly in 2020 with record-breaking and deadly weather- and climate-related disasters.
With the most named storms in the Atlantic, the largest-ever area of California burned by wildfires, killer floods in Asia and Africa and a hot, melting Arctic, 2020 was more than a disastrous year with the pandemic. It was a year of disasters — and climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas was a big factor, scientists said.
The United States didn’t just set a record for the most disasters costing at least $1 billion — adjusted for inflation — the nation obliterated the record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
By September, 2020 had tied the old record of 16 billion-dollar disasters and when the count is completed in early January, officials figure it will be 20, likely more. Only three states weren’t part of a billion-dollar weather disaster (Alaska, Hawaii and North Dakota) — and all the coastline from Texas to Maine, except for a tiny part of Florida, was under a watch or warning for a hurricane, tropical storm or storm surge from those systems in 2020, according to U.S. weather officials.
With 30 named storms, the Atlantic hurricane season surpassed the mark set in 2005, ran out of storm names and went deep into the Greek alphabet, making meteorologists reconsider how they name future storms, officials said. Ten of those storms rapidly intensified, making them more dangerous. A dozen made landfall in the U.S., easily smashing the old record of nine. And Louisiana got hit five times. At one point, the American Red Cross had 60 New Orleans hotels filled with refugees.
With a devastating 20-year megadrought and near-record heat, California had at least 6,528 square miles (16,907 square kilometers) burned by wildfire, doubling the previous record...