The experts predicted an increasing number of extreme weather events which will accompany the climate crises and sadly they have not been proved wrong.
America suffered a record number of weather and climate-driven disasters in 2020, such as extensive wildfires, hurricanes in quick succession and extreme heat, a new federal government report has shown.
A total of 22 major disasters, defined as each causing at least $1bn in damage, swept the US last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). At least 262 people died, with $95bn in total damages recorded.
A total of 10.3m acres burned in wildfires in 2020 across the US west, an area larger than Maryland and well above this century’s average. California recording five of the six biggest fires in its history, an outbreak that destroyed thousands of homes and caused the sky to turn an apocalyptic orange over the San Francisco Bay Area.
On the eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico, a record 12 tropical storms made landfall during a year. Seven of these caused more than $1bn in damage, including hurricanes Laura and Sally, which hit the US south in quick succession in August and September. Three hurricanes and two tropical storms hit Louisiana alone.
A major drought and heatwave happened in the US west last year and it was the fifth hottest on record across the contiguous US, which follows a longer-term pattern of national and global heating – all of the five warmest years on record in the US have occurred since 2012.
There were three major tornado-related disasters and a highly destructive derecho, which is an event driven by fast-moving thunderstorms, that downed power lines, damaged houses and flattened crops in the midwest.
Scientists have found that the strength of storms is increasing as the atmosphere and ocean heats up, while the area eaten up by fire has grown as rising temperatures dry out soils and vegetation.
“The record number of climate change-exacerbated weather disasters this year drives home the fact that, as I like to say, the impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State.