When it came to extreme weather and climate events, 2012 was a colossal year for the U.S. It was the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states, featuring a massive drought and deadly heat waves that broke thousands of temperature records. Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and one of the most intense and long-lasting complexes of severe thunderstorms, known as a “derecho,” plunged 4 million people into darkness from Iowa to Virginia.
Now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has totaled the losses caused by the 11 most expensive extreme weather and climate disasters in 2012, each of which cost upwards of $1 billion. According toNOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., these billion-dollar events cost the U.S. a total of $110 billion, which puts 2012 behind only 2005 on the list of costliest years since 1980.