The first six months of 2021 brought a total of 8 billion-dollar disasters to the United States, according to data provided by the NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Disasters. The 1980 – 2020 annual average is 7.1 events (CPI-adjusted), while the annual average for the most recent 5 years (2016 – 2020) is 16.2 events (CPI-adjusted).
The United States experienced 4 severe storms with damages in excess of $1 billion in the first 6 months of 2021, including tornadoes, hail and high wind damage. The nation also had 2 flooding events with damages exceeding $1 billion, 1 winter storm with a deep freeze, and 1 heat wave-influenced drought.
The costliest event was the February 10 – 19 winter storm and cold wave in Texas that incurred direct losses of approximately $20 billion.
The next costliest disaster was the severe weather outbreak of April 27 – 28 in Texas and Oklahoma that caused $2.4 billion in damages.
The large hailstone you can see on the featured image fell on April 28, 2021, near Hondo, Texas. NCEI verified that it's the largest hailstone on record to fall in Texas. It had a diameter of 16.29 cm (6.416 inches) and weighed 0.57 kg (1.26 pounds).
According to NOAA, these events resulted in the deaths of 331 people, but the actual number might be higher as it's still not clear how many people died in the 2021 Texas deep freeze.
In 2020, the country had a record 22 weather and climate disasters, each causing at least $1 billion in damages. However, despite the record number of disasters in 2020, none of them made it among the costliest disasters ever to strike the U.S.
The 2021 YTD inflation-adjusted losses from all eight disasters were also at a near-record high for the first 6 months and came in at nearly $30 billion – only behind 2011, NOAA said.
The U.S. has experienced 298 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2021). The total cost of these 298 events exceeds $1.975 trillion.
Featured image: Large hailstone that fell on April 28, 2021, near Hondo, Texas — the largest hailstone on record to fall in Texas. Credit: Resident submitted photo, courtesy of National Weather Service Forecast Office, San Antonio.
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