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As part of its responsibility of monitoring and assessing the climate, NCEI tracks and evaluates climate events in the U.S. and globally that have great economic and societal impacts. NCEI is frequently called upon to provide summaries of global and U.S. temperature and precipitation trends, extremes, and comparisons in their historical perspective.
The U.S. has sustained 241 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. The total cost of these 241 events exceeds $1.6 trillion.
Below are NCEI's billion-dollar incidents for 2018...
There were 14 weather and climate disasters with losses each exceeding $1 billion during 2018. These disasters included: 2 tropical cyclones (Hurricanes Florence and Michael), 1 western wildfire disaster comprised of several constituent fire complexes over several months, 8 instances of severe convective storms (hail, tornado, and/or damaging winds), 1 large drought episode, and 2 winter storms.
The 14 events, in total, claimed at least 247 lives and had total losses estimated at $91 billion. About $73 billion of this total was attributable to three events: Hurricanes Michael ($25 billion) and Florence ($24 billion), and the complex of western wildfires ($24 billion)
2018 marked the eighth consecutive year with eight or more billion dollar disasters, exceeding the long-term average of 6.2 per year. It was also the eighth year overall with at least 10 billion-dollar disasters; all but one of those years have occurred since 2008.
Two large and devastating wildfires impacted California in early November. The Camp Fire burned more than 153,000 acres in Northern California, near Chico. The fire caused at least 88 fatalities and destroyed more than 18,000 structures, with the town of Paradise being the hardest hit. This marked the most destructive and deadliest wildfire on record in California and the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. since the Cloquet Fire in 1918 killed 453 people in Minnesota. In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire destroyed more than 1,500 structures and caused at least three fatalities in and around Malibu.
Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, on October 10th with sustained winds of 155 mph. This was the third most intense hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous U.S. based on central pressure and the fourth most intense based on wind speed. Michael was also the most intense hurricane on record to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle. The storm caused widespread devastation across the Florida Panhandle and farther inland across Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. There were at least 45 fatalities blamed on the storm in the U.S.
Hurricane Florence, one of the deadliest and costliest to ever impact the Carolinas, made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, NC, on September 14th and moved inland slowly, with heavy rains, storm surge and record flooding, causing at least 51 deaths and extensive flooding across much of the Carolinas and Virginia.