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Top Billion-Dollar Disasters in 2020

We know how bad the derecho on August 10th was in Iowa. The October database on billion dollar disasters, from NOAA, estimates the derecho did 7.5 billion dollars in damage. This would make it the second costliest weather/climate disaster in 2020...so far. The the most expensive one was Hurricane Laura with 14 billion dollars lost. Keep in mind we are in harvest season so the 7.5 billion dollars can go up since the official crop numbers are not in yet.

Ten named tropical systems made landfall in the U.S. so far this year and the derecho did more damage than 9 of the 10 of them did.

Here is the list of the top 5 costliest disasters in 2020 so far.

Estimated Cost (Billions)Event/DateSummary
$14.0Hurricane Laura
August 2020
Hurricane Laura was a powerful category 4 that made landfall at Cameron Parish, in southwestern Louisiana. Winds up to 150 mph and storm surge in excess of 15 feet caused heavy damage along the coast as well as inland to the city of Lake Charles. Many broken water systems and severely damaged electrical grid in southern Louisiana will slow the recovery process. Laura was the strongest hurricane (by maximum sustained windspeed at landfall) to hit Louisiana since the 1856 Last Island hurricane. Laura also had highest landfall wind speed to impact the U.S. since Hurricane Michael in 2018. There were additional impacts to surrounding states including Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas.
$7.5Severe Weather - Derecho
August 2020
A powerful derecho traveled from southeast South Dakota to Ohio, a path of 770 miles in 14 hours producing widespread winds greater than 100 mph. The states most affected included Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio. This derecho caused widespread damage to millions of acres of corn and soybean crops across central Iowa. There was also severe damage to homes, businesses and vehicles particularly in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In addition, there were 15 tornadoes across northeastern Illinois several affecting the Chicago metropolitan area.
$4.5Hurricane Isaias
August 2020
Hurricane Isaias made landfall in southeastern North Carolina as a category 1 storm. Isaias accelerated up the East Coast, resulting in widespread damage and power outages across New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. There was also considerable inland flooding most notably in Pennsylvania. In addition, 34 tornadoes developed across North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey due to Isaias. Many tornadoes were weaker (EF-0 and EF-1) producing scattered damage to agriculture, structures and residences. Isaias also produced several EF-2 tornadoes and one EF-3 tornado that caused damage in coastal North Carolina and Virginia.
$3.6Southeast and Eastern Tornado Outbreak
April 2020
Outbreak of at least 140 tornadoes from Texas to Maryland including 3 EF4s, 12 EF3s, 20 EF2s, 77 EF1s and 28 EF0s. Damage was extensive and highly destructive to many homes, vehicles and businesses across more than a dozen Southeast and Eastern states.
$2.9North Central and Ohio Valley Hail Storms and Severe Weather
April 2020
Numerous hail storms caused widespread damage across many North Central and Ohio Valley states including Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri. More than 20 tornadoes were also reorted across southern Indiana and Ohio. There was additional widespread high wind damage to homes, vehicles and businesses in many other surrounding states.

There are three other disasters not yet estimated.

  1. The wildfires in the western part of the U.S.
  2. Drought in the western and central part of the U.S.
  3. Hurricane Sally

Here is the complete list of the billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in 2020.

Mark Schnackenberg

Chief Meteorologist

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