CHARLOTTE — According to climate data released Tuesday morning by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2023 saw 28 weather-related disasters that left behind at least a billion in damages.
That’s the highest number of what NOAA calls billion-dollar disasters the U.S. has ever recorded in a calendar year.
Unlike the previous record year, 2020, last year’s billion-dollar events included very few tropical cyclones.
Only one Atlantic hurricane, Idalia, made landfall in the continental United States, but it left behind at least a billion in damages. The only other billion-dollar tropical cyclone was a typhoon that made landfall in Guam in May.
The rest of 2023′s billion-dollar disasters include 17 severe thunderstorms or hail events, four flooding events, two tornado outbreaks, one winter storm, one wildfire, and the drought that covered much of the South and Midwest.
Interestingly, the billion-dollar wildfire did not occur in the west, which had its quietest wildfire season in decades. Instead, it was the Maui wildfire, which was the deadliest the country has seen in more than a century.
The costliest disaster for country last year was the widespread drought, at $14.5 billion. At its peak, the drought covered 46.3 percent of the continental U.S. including much of the western half of North and South Carolina. Locally, this lead to water restrictions and impacted cattle farmers.
Last year was also the 5th warmest year in U.S. history in terms of average temperatures, due to an unseasonably warm December. Charlotte saw its second warmest year on record in 2023.
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