Nearly 80 Percent Of Americans Hit By Extreme Weather Disaster Since 2007, Report Finds

Source: Environment America

The vast majority of Americans have experienced a weather-related disaster in the past six years, according to a report released today by the Environment America Research and Policy Center.

The report, which is based on disaster declaration data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, found that 243 million Americans — nearly four out of five — have lived in a county that has been hit by at least one federally declared weather-related disaster since 2007. The breadth and impact of these disasters, which include drought, tropical cyclones, flooding, tornadoes, wildfires and snow and ice storms, has been significant. According to the report:

  • Every U.S. state besides South Carolina has experienced a weather-related disaster since 2007, and in 18 states and the District of Columbia, weather-related disasters have affected every county.
  • More than 19 million Americans live in counties that have averaged one or more weather disaster per year since 2007.
  • In 2012 alone, there were at least 11 disasters that caused more than $1 billion in damage, including Hurricane Sandy, which, with a price tag as high as $70 billion, was the costliest weather-related disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina.
  • Eight U.S. counties in South Dakota, Oklahoma and Nebraska have been hit by ten or more weather disasters since the beginning of 2007.

The report notes that the frequency and intensity of several weather-related disasters has increased over the last several years and is predicted to continue increasing as the climate warms. Intense rainfall, for instance, has become more frequent in the U.S., with “the rainiest 1 percent of all storms delivering 20 percent more rain on average at the end of the 20th century than at the beginning,” and this increase is predicted to continue. And it’s likely the record-breaking heat waves, drought and wildfires that have gripped the country in the last few years will also become more common as the planet warms. The link between tornadoes and climate change is more tenuous and complicated (see here).

The report is in line with other studies of its kind — in February, a report from the Center for American Progress found that in 2011 and 2012, 43 states experienced extreme weather events that caused at least $1 billion in damage, and these events caused 1,107 fatalities and up to $188 billion in damage in total. To slow the increase of many kinds of extreme weather events, the Environment America report calls on federal and state governments to implement caps on greenhouse gases — especially on high-emitting sources, such as power plants and the transportation sector — and adopt goals of reducing emissions by at least 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and at least 85 percent by 2050.

16 Responses to Nearly 80 Percent Of Americans Hit By Extreme Weather Disaster Since 2007, Report Finds

  1. Michelle M says:

    Nice, a map you can’t click on so you can actually read the information it’s trying to present.

  2. Joe Romm says:

    You have to click on the word “report” to read the report.

  3. Merrelyn Emery says:

    That’s why the deniers are losing, ME

  4. wili says:

    Looks to me as if God is trying to get Inhofe out of office! Hasn’t worked yet, though.

    What’s your back up plan, big guy??

  5. BBHY says:

    One of my Facebook friends posted “I wish I weighed now what I weighed back when I thought I was fat”

    In 20 years people will be saying “I wish we had the climate we had back when we thought climate change was bad”

  6. wili says:

    Joe, this is the only thread that accurately shows how many comments there are (the others show 0), and that shows “reply” buttons after comments.

    Are other people having these problems?

    (And thanks again for an otherwise great site.)

  7. David B. Benson says:

    Somehow a level 1 ‘disaster’ cannot be much of a go. Whitman County, Washington, has that coloring and there has been nothing dramatic at all in the past six years. In the early fall of 2010 there was quite a field fire and we all noticed the smokey conditions. Maybe one of those summers the wind blew hard enough to lodge the wheat so the farmers lost some of their crop.

    But this is the paradise called the Palouse. Nothing actually dramatic has happened since the great winter of 1968-9.

  8. wili says:

    There does seem to be something odd about this study. It doesn’t seem to register some of the huge wild fires that occurred in NM or CO. Is that because they were not started by lightening? And iirc there was a billion+ dollar damaging hale storm in Houston last year, but I don’t see that show up in the break down in the full report. But maybe I’m missing something?

    (By the way, I can’t seem to be able to post on any of the other threads, either. Again, is it only me?)

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yep and comments become disappearniks, ME

  10. Brooks Bridges says:

    I’ve seen 0 comment prob also. And while you’re at it:

    Why do comments NOT show up on a smart phone. Even if I use a browser and go directly to the link. (Taboola shows up nicely though)

  11. Robert in New Orleans says:

    I have noticed this same “Taboola” junk on this website. I do not know from what black hole in cyber space that it emanates from, but I wish it would just go away!

  12. Robert in New Orleans says:

    I suspect that only when there are enough average Americans, taking multiple punishing shots (especially to the wallet or purse) from the effects of climate change will there be enough pressure put on their elected officials to do something about this situation. But I also think that by that time it will be too late to make a difference, if it’s not already too late right now.

  13. MJ-Houston says:

    No billion-dollar hailstorm in Houston, TX, last year. Don’t know about the other Houstons, though. :)

  14. Steve Bloom says:

    IIRC more like TX panhandle/OK two or three years ago, and maybe not a billion dollars (although quite major). Easy to look up, though.

  15. Charles Zeller says:

    Yes, intermittently – which is unfortunate for the programmers.