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Natural disasters in 2020 set new records

“The total cost for California was an excess of $2 billion. They had more than 10,000 structures destroyed across the state.”
Dense smoke causes orange skies in Oregon.
Dense smoke causes orange skies in Oregon.(File/CBS)
Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 12:56 PM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — From a record hurricane season to blazing wildfires in the West, 2020 set new records for natural disasters.

In the United States, there were 22 separate and very costly natural disasters costing at least $1 billion with the second-costliest being the huge wildfires to the West. California set many state records during the year.

“4% of the state actually burned up,” said Pocatello National Weather Service meteorologist Jack Messick. “The total cost for California was an excess of $2 billion. They had more than 10,000 structures destroyed across the state.”

It was the most active fire season in history across the West. Nearly 1 million acres of land were burned across Idaho, Utah and Nevada, and millions more burned across California and Oregon. While temperatures have been rising in recent years, a mixture of ingredients and insects are responsible for the larger fires.

Map of the 22 billion dollar natural disasters in 2020.
Map of the 22 billion dollar natural disasters in 2020.(NOAA NCEI)

“What used to happen in the ’90s is winters were cold enough where the egg larva in these trees from the insects that were killing them would actually die. But with the warmer, milder winters more of them survive so more trees die.”

Those dead trees are then not cut down either because of a lack of resources or people not wanting trees removed from their property and can help rapidly fuel fires.

So, was 2020 just a crazy year or a sign of things to come? It’s hard to say.

“You know every year is different. Weird freakish things can happen for a couple weeks that radically change things, and that kind of stuff is just not forecastable until you’re about, you know, within that 21-day period.”

The 22 separate natural disasters cost a total of nearly $95 billion.

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