Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and drought: Look back at 2022’s wild weather

There have been at least 15 billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. this year, according to NOAA. It will take Americans months, if not years, to recover from some of them.

There were a number of natural disasters in 2022, some of which have left lasting impacts on the communities hit hardest by Mother Nature’s fury.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there have been at least 15 billion-dollar disasters this year. That number was assessed in October and is down from the 20 billion-dollar disasters that happened in 2021.

Here’s a look back at some of the wild weather we experienced in 2022.

Hurricane Ian

On Sept. 28, Hurricane Ian slammed into Southwest Florida as a Category 4 hurricane. The ferocious 150-mph winds pushed ashore feet of water from the Gulf of Mexico that tore through homes and businesses along the coast in the Fort Myers area.

Ian crossed the Florida Peninsula diagonally and dumped flooding rain on the interior and blew in storm surge along the opposite coast from where it made landfall. 

The storm made a third and final U.S. landfall in South Carolina two days after slamming into Florida.

More than 100 people were killed by the storm. Most of the fatalities happened in Lee County, Florida, and were attributed to drowning.

Hurricane Fiona

Puerto Rico was hit hard by Hurricane Fiona in mid-September. The storm’s high winds and torrential rains led to devastating flooding and power outages that lasted for days. 

Even after it had weakened days later, the storm still brought hurricane-force winds, driving rain and rough seas to the coast of Canada. The storm tore down coastal homes as the relentless waves ate away at the beach.

More than a dozen deaths were blamed on Fiona.

Hurricane Nicole

November saw another hurricane hit Florida. Hurricane Nicole brought powerful waves, storm surge and blinding rain when it crashed into the Vero Beach area as a Category 1 hurricane.

The 15-foot waves ripped into the coast and brought down buildings in communities such as Daytona Beach Shores and Wilbur-By-The-Sea. St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, was inundated by the Atlantic Ocean as Nicole’s winds pushed feet of water ashore.

Nearly a dozen deaths in the Caribbean and the U.S. were blamed on Nicole.

Late July floods

Nearly 40 people were killed when flooding tore through eastern Kentucky at the end of July. About 10 inches of rain fell across the region over two days, and most of that fell in just a few hours. 

A couple of days before the Kentucky floods, St. Louis, Missouri, was inundated when thunderstorms dumped nearly 10 inches of rain on the Gateway to the West. Rainfall rates as high as 5 inches an hour were reported during the storms.

Both of these floods were considered 1-in-1,000-year rainfall events.


One of the strongest tornadoes of the year happened in Georgia in April. The EF-4 twister ripped through places like Pembroke and Black Creek with winds as high as 185 mph along its nearly 13-mile-long path.

Gaylord, Michigan, experienced its first tornado in recorded history when an EF-3 twister with 150-mph winds ripped through the city. Two people were killed, and more than 40 others were injured.

A tornado touched down in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in October. The EF-0 twister with 75-mph winds was the first to hit the city in more than 20 years.

The year ended with a tornado outbreak. More than 50 twisters were reported from Texas to Georgia in mid-December. At least 3 deaths were blamed on the storms in Louisiana, where a mother and her 8-year-old son were among the fatalities. Some New Orleans neighborhoods were also ripped to shreds by a tornado.

Water crisis in Mississippi’s capital

In August, flooding in Jackson, Mississippi, caused a failure at the city’s primary water treatment plant. The result was about 150,000 people in the city being left with little to no running water for days. The National Guard was called in to help distribute bottled water.

Largest wildfire in New Mexico history

The largest wildfire in the history of New Mexico consumed more than 340,000 acres and burned nearly 200 homes over the course of 90 days. The Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak fire started in early April and burned until early July. At one point, nearly 2,100 firefighters were called in to battle the blaze.

Oddities, mysteries unearthed by drought

Ancient treasures were revealed over the summer as drought left parts of the country parched. 

The 113-million-year-old footprints of dinosaurs were exposed in the dried-up part of a river in Texas. Low water levels in the Mississippi River also revealed a shipwreck in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a supposed Civil War-era belt buckle in Memphis, Tennessee. In the drought-ravaged West, low lakes allowed not only abandoned boats to resurface, but also a barreled body.

Across the Northern Hemisphere, drought led to the appearance of foreboding carvings, ancient cities and "The Spanish Stonehenge."