The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported a total of 22 major disasters, defined as each causing at least $1 billion in damage, swept the US last year, up by six over the previous record. Extensive wildfires scorched the west, hurricanes in quick succession pummeled the east and extreme heat swept across the heart of the country, causing the deaths of at least 262 people and leaving $95 billion in total damages in their wake.
2020 was the most active wildfire year on record in the US west, with California experiencing five of the six biggest fires in its history, causing the destruction of thousands of homes and the sky to turn an apocalyptic orange over the San Francisco Bay Area. A total of 10.3 million acres burned in wildfires in 2020 across the US west, an area larger than Maryland and well above this century’s average.
In the east, a record 12 tropical storms made landfall, seven of which caused more than $1 billion 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.