Extreme Storms Lead a Record Year for Weather Disasters
2020 was a nightmarish year for many, and a distressing year for basically everyone. And it was deeper even than COVID-19: Not only did the year bring a deadly global pandemic and an extended quarantine across the country, it also broke prior high marks for extreme weather in the U.S.
A weather event isn’t officially classified as a disaster until it causes a billion dollars in damages, and there were an astounding 22 of these events in 2020. And there were many others that caused plenty of damage without reaching that status—there were so many storms in the Atlantic, for example, that the National Weather Service exhausted its list of names for the year and had to name storms using Greek letters for just the second time in history.
Here in Lowell, we suffered one of these many storms, as Tropical Storm Isaias left more than 200,000 people in our area without power.
Not Just Hurricanes
Hurricanes are massive storms, and they are definitely common culprits of these billion-dollar disasters. But it turns out that the most expensive disasters of 2020 in the contiguous United States were thunderstorms and tornadoes: Almost two-thirds, 14 of 22, were storm systems.
It’s astonishing the damage even one thunderstorm can cause. In August, a typical-looking system intensified, becoming a destructive derecho (picture a tornado, but with straight-line winds instead of a cyclone shape). The massive storm hit over 10 million acres of Nebraska corn fields, putting almost 50% of the state’s precious corn crop in peril, and endangering over 11% of the entire country’s corn.
Not Just 2020
We can hope 2020 was a singularity, but truthfully, it seems to be following an unsettling trend: The previous two years joined together for damages totaling $136 billion, and 2017’s weather caused a record-high $300 billion in repair costs. In fact, each year since 2010 has suffered at least eight billion-dollar natural disasters in the U.S.
Storms are possible anytime, anywhere, and it’s important to take precautions against storm and water damage. But if those precautions should become insufficient in an extreme weather situation, remember that SERVPRO is always standing by with 24⁄7 emergency support.
When storms do damage, we go to work to make things right. Contact SERVPRO today to see how we can help.