(WKBN) – Numerous natural disasters occurred in the United States and territories in 2022. Of all the weather-related disasters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that 18 of them came at a cost of greater than $1 billion.
There were three tropical cyclones, a large and prolonged drought event and 11 severe weather events, each resulting in over $1 billion in damages, an extensive and damaging wildfire season, one catastrophic flooding event, and the costs associated with the record-breaking arctic outbreak at the end of the year.
These are the top three costliest weather-related disasters of 2022
1. Hurricane Ian – September 2022, Damage estimate: $112.9 billion
The devastating and catastrophic Hurricane Ian tops the list of the most expensive weather disasters of 2022. Ian made landfall on Florida’s southwestern coast at 3:05 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2022. It was a category 4 hurricane at landfall with sustained winds of 150 mph.
Ian brought a catastrophic storm surge, wiping parts of the coastline off the map. The extreme winds caused severe damage to power and infrastructure. The storm slowly moved inland, dumping torrential rains and causing near to greater than hurricane-force gusts across a large part of the state. Ian weakened as it crossed the state of Florida, then reemerged in the Atlantic off the east coast of the state.
Ian re-intensified to a category 1 hurricane after moving back out over open waters. The same day that it regained hurricane strength, the system made another landfall near Georgetown, South Carolina, with winds sustained at 85 mph. This landfall also brought storm surges resulting in major flooding in Charleston, SC, and Myrtle Beach. The storm also damaged several piers along the South Carolina coast. The storm is attributed to 152 deaths and billions in damages.
2. Western and Central U.S. drought – January through December 2022, Damage estimate: $22.2 billion
The western and central parts of the country experienced a major drought in 2022, causing numerous complications in the availability of fresh drinking water and water for crops. It even caused disruptions to shipping in the country and numerous other small to large-scale impacts.
For the west, the drought problems carried over from 2021. Many western reservoirs reached record lows. Lake Mead fell to the lowest level since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. The Great Salt Lake also dropped to record low levels.
Drought conditions in the central plains caused major shipping issues on the Mississippi River this year. The waterway is responsible for moving more than half of U.S. grain exports, but the low water levels caused delays in shipping. Boats running aground also closed parts of the river at times, causing further shipping delays. Our area also experienced drier-than-average conditions during the summer and fall, though we never reached an official drought declaration.
Droughts can also lead to an intensification of heat waves. Evaporation of moisture in the soil is a cooling process. To evaporate water into a gas requires the absorption of heat energy. The result is a cooling of the surrounding air. This is why our bodies perspire and how the process cools people when they’re hot.
Excessive heat was responsible for 136 deaths in 2022. The National Centers for Environmental Information reports that the majority of those fatalities were focused in Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon and Texas.
3. June 2022 Derecho – June 13-14, 2022, Damage estimate: $3.2 billion
A “derecho” is a type of severe weather event resulting in a widespread and prolonged area of severe winds. This type of system typically forms in very hot weather and manifests as a rapidly moving cluster of thunderstorms.
The June 2022 derecho weather disaster just barely missed the Youngstown area. It resulted in severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings just west and southwest of the area. Below is a radar loop showing the track of that severe event and how close it came to the Valley:
This derecho event resulted in major damage to power lines in the region, damaged numerous homes and businesses, brought down trees and damaged farmland. The National Weather Service in Cleveland reports estimated wind speeds reaching 80-90 mph in nearby Wayne and Holmes counties. The NWS also reports three tornadoes touched down with the system, resulting in winds estimated to be as high as 105 mph. You can see a report from the National Weather Service in Cleveland, including photos and a list of damage reports in the region from this system at this link.
The other 15 billion-dollar weather disasters of 2022
|NUMBER||EVENT NAME||DATE||ESTIMATED COST||EVENT SUMMARY||FATALITIES|
|4.||Western Wildfires||April -November 2022||$3.1 billion||Drought conditions in the west helped exacerbate drought conditions in 2022. New Mexico experienced the largest and most destructive documented wildfire in the history of the state. Large fires also burned in Oregon and California. In total, 7.5 million acres of land burned in 2022.||17 fatalities|
|5.||Mid-May 2022 Severe Weather Outbreak||May 11-May 12, 2022||$2.8 billion||A severe weather outbreak occurred in May, impacting the northern Plains and western Great Lakes region. South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin experienced large hail, severe storms and tornadoes. More than two dozen tornadoes occurred in the region during the outbreak.||1 fatality|
|6.||April 2022 Severe Weather Outbreak||April 11-April 13, 2022||$2.8 billion||Damaging storms produced severe wind gusts and numerous tornadoes across the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Texas. There were 74 confirmed tornadoes during this severe weather outbreak.||1 fatality|
|7.||Hurricane Fiona||Sept. 17-18, 2022||$2.5 billion||Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 18 as a category 1 hurricane with winds sustained at 85 MPH. It caused torrential rain and flooding in addition to wind damage across the island. Puerto Rico’s power grid experienced major damage, resulting in the entire island losing power during the storm.||25 fatalities|
|8.||Mid-May 2022 Hail Storms||May 19, 2022||$2.5 billion||Severe storms produced large hail across parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Numerous reports of golf ball size hail occurred. This event was the second severe hail event in the region during the month of May.||0 fatalities|
|9.||Early May 2022 Hail Storms||May 9, 2022||$2.2 billion||Golf ball- to baseball-sized hail damaged structures and vehicles across Minnesota and Wisconsin.||0 fatalities|
|10.||June 2022 Severe Weather Outbreak||June 7-8, 2022||$1.9 billion||Numerous severe storms and tornadoes were reported over a two-day stretch. States impacted included Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa and Ohio.||0 fatalities|
|11.||Kentucky & Missouri Flash Flood||July 26-28, 2022||$1.5 billion||A stalled boundary between cooler air to the north and warmer, humid air to the south served as a focal point for torrential rains and flash flooding in both states. Major flooding occurred in the St. Louis area and deadly flash floods washed away entire regions of eastern Kentucky.||42 fatalities|
|12.||April 2022 Tornado Outbreak||April 4-6, 2022||$1.5 billion||89 tornadoes occurred during the three-day stretch across the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.||3 fatalities|
|13.||July 2022 Severe Weather||July 22-24, 2022||$1.3 billion||Severe storms resulted in numerous damaging wind reports and touched off 19 tornadoes across several states. Impacted states included North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and New York.||1 fatality|
|14.||March 2022 Tornado Outbreak||March 30, 2022||$1.3 billion||83 tornadoes occurred across parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.||2 fatalities|
|15.||Early-May 2022 Severe Weather Outbreak||May 1-3, 2022||$1.2 billion||Severe storms producing high wind gusts and hail occurred across Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio and Pennsylvania.||1 fatality|
|16.||February 2022 Texas Hail Storms||Feb. 21-22, 2022||$1.1 billion||Ping pong- to golf ball-sized hail occurred across several counties in Texas, causing damage to structures and vehicles.||0 fatalities|
|17.||Hurricane Nicole||Nov. 10-11, 2022||$1 billion||Hurricane Nicole became the first landfalling hurricane in Florida during the month of November since 1985. The Hurricane made landfall as a category 1 hurricane along Florida’s east coast on Nov. 10 with winds sustained at 75 MPH. It caused wind damage, widespread flooding and severe coastal erosion that damaged many coastal homes and structures.||5 fatalities|
|18.||December 2022 Arctic Outbreak||Dec. 21-26, 2022||Still being calculated||Arctic air plunged into the United States as a lobe of the polar vortex dove into the country. The insurgence of record cold air resulted in dangerous cold as far south as Texas and the Gulf coast. Blizzard conditions occurred in western New York resulting in numerous fatalities due to exposure when people became trapped. Damage to homes and businesses due to burst pipes occurred across a large part of the country. Damages are expected to be greater than $1 billion.||87 fatalities|
Summary of total cost and fatalities due to extreme weather in 2022
The National Center for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ranks 2022 as having the third highest occurrence of billion-dollar or greater natural disasters with 18 total events recorded. NOAA reports that total damages from natural disasters in 2022 reached $165 billion. That number may climb due to damage costs of the December arctic outbreak still being assessed.
At $165 billion, it also ranks as the third costliest year for natural disasters. There were 474 deaths in the United States due to extreme weather events in 2022, the eighth highest on record.