Hurricanes Ian, Fiona become most recent billion-dollar weather disasters to strike US
The US has been struck by 15 billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2022.
The list of billion-dollar weather disasters to strike the U.S. in 2022 continues to grow, with hurricanes Ian and Fiona becoming the most recent such disasters the nation has endured this year.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hurricane Ian was the 15th billion-dollar disaster so far in 2022, marking a record eighth-consecutive year in which the U.S. has experienced 10 or more billion-dollar weather disasters.
Hurricane Ian battered Southwest Florida as it made landfall on Sept. 28 in the Fort Myers area as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane. Ian's ferocious 150-mph winds pushed ashore feet of water from the Gulf of Mexico that tore through homes and businesses along Florida's coastline.
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The following day, Hurricane 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.
Ian made its final landfall in South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane on Sept. 30, two days after slamming into Florida.
More than 100 people were killed by Hurricane Ian in Florida alone, with additional deaths also reported in North Carolina, Virginia and Cuba.
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Hurricane Fiona was also a recent addition to this year's list of billion-dollar weather disasters, according to NOAA. While this hurricane didn't directly impact the mainland U.S., Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 1 hurricane on Sept. 18, about 10 days before Hurricane Ian's catastrophic strike on Florida.
The entire archipelago of Puerto Rico lost power as Fiona brought wind gusts as high as 103 mph in Ponce, a large city on the southern coast of the U.S. territory's main island. Hurricane Fiona also brought extreme rainfall to Puerto Rico, resulting in widespread flooding and mudslides which damaged many homes, businesses, vehicles and other infrastructure.
NOAA estimates more than two-dozen people were killed in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Fiona.
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In addition to hurricanes Ian and Fiona, the nation's 13 other billion-dollar disasters this year include 10 separate severe-weather events, the Kentucky and St. Louis flooding event in July, a combined drought and heat wave in the West as Lake Mead and other large reservoirs continue to be depleted, and the damaging wildfire season across the West, where millions of acres have burned since the spring.
These 15 billion-dollar disaster events have been blamed for more than 300 deaths in the U.S., with assessments still ongoing in Florida and Puerto Rico in the wake of Ian and Fiona, so that number will likely continue to climb in the coming days and weeks.
The combined losses from property and infrastructure damage currently stand at $29.3 billion so far in 2022, but this figure does not yet include the costs for hurricanes Ian and Fiona and the Western wildfire season, which might push the year's total closer to $100 billion – a total reached in four of the last five years.
According to NOAA, the U.S. has endured 338 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters since recordkeeping began in 1980. The total cost of these 338 events exceeds $2.295 trillion.