2020 Sets Record for U.S. Weather Disasters

Smoke rises from a burning chemical plant after the passing of Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Aug. 27, 2020.

2020 Sets Record for U.S. Weather Disasters

‘We’re running out of adjectives trying to describe these extreme events.’

A record 22 major weather disasters costing at least $1 billion in damages each struck the United States in 2020, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (noaa) announced on January 8. Altogether the wildfires, tornadoes, droughts, hurricanes and other disasters resulted in the deaths of 262 people and cost the country $95 billion.

Last year’s 22 weather disasters shattered the record of 16 formerly held by 2011 and 2017. Hurricane Laura, the Category 4 storm that struck the Louisiana coast in August, was 2020’s most expensive weather disaster, costing $19 billion. It was also the deadliest storm of the year, claiming 42 lives.

Wildfires across the Western states of California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington were similarly calamitous, incurring a combined $16.5 billion. In total, 10.2 million acres were burned, and 46 people died.

The derecho windstorm that swept from South Dakota to Ohio in August damaged homes, buildings and power lines, costing about $11 billion.

Since noaa started tracking billion-dollar disasters in 1980, there have been 285 such recorded events, with the costs calculated with consumer price index adjustment for 2020. Nearly half of these, 141, occurred in the last decade. 2020 marked the sixth consecutive year in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather-related events impacted the U.S., and the eighth of such years in the last decade.

Over the last 41 years, only two other years, 1998 and 2008, matched that level of devastation.

“We sort of sound like a broken record saying every year is a historic year, but it’s true,” said Adam Smith, a climatologist at noaa. “We’re running out of adjectives trying to describe these extreme events.

Climate catastrophes are getting worse. The data shows that some are becoming more frequent, with hurricanes getting wetter, storms growing more violent, and wildfires fiercer. Scientists, analysts and commentators alike have rung the alarm bells on the worrying frequency and growing intensity of these disasters for decades, since even before the first Earth Day in 1970. And today, as then, the all-too familiar clang is that of man-made climate change.

“As we move forward in time,” Smith continued, “the fingerprints of climate change are becoming more obvious for some of these extreme events.”

The thrust of the argument is that climate change is a direct result of mankind’s high carbon footprint through activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

These increasingly frequent weather calamities truly are disastrous. And they deserve mankind’s attention. But for decades, the finger has been pointed dogmatically at man-made climate change. Curtailing pollution and reducing emissions have been held up as the solution. Some have even praised the coronavirus pandemic for “helping humanity buy some time against global warming.”

Most people believe it. The climate crusade is more popular than ever. No longer confined to social outsiders, it has become mainstream.

And although coronavirus helped “buy some time,” Dr. Jonathan Foley of Project Drawdown says we need to “keep doing this even more, and do it for the next 30 years to really bend the curve on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” It takes time, they tell us. We need every day to be Earth Day, to forever live as though we are in lockdown. That is the proffered solution to all these catastrophic events.

This severe and dangerous misdiagnosis persists despite a lack of evidence. Many countries are switching from coal to natural gas, even serial polluters like China. Carbon emissions are dropping, and the number of environmentalists continue to grow. Yet weather disasters continue to worsen.

The real question mankind should be asking in the face of increasing weather disasters is: What does God think about all this?

Many scoff at the existence of God. But in the face of science’s evident and decades-long failure in diagnosing the true cause of weather disasters, it is crucial to consider God’s connection to the worsening weather disasters.

The Bible shows that God is in control of the weather. Jesus Christ demonstrated control over weather when He quieted a storm (Mark 4:39-41). Leviticus 26:4-5 show that God promises to give favorable weather and rain for crops—but there is a condition: “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them” (verse 3). When we refuse to obey God and submit to His law, He brings storms, floods, drought, fiery heat and other disasters to correct us and turn us to Him (Job 37:11-13; Deuteronomy 11:17; 28:22; Amos 4:7; Nahum 1:3-4).

As we write in our booklet Why ‘Natural’ Disasters?:

The idea that carbon emissions cause storms is the antithesis of what God says! …

One reason God sends storms is for correction. Yes, sometimes God bathes the earth with gentle rain to show His loving concern and mercy—and other times God uses the weather to correct people! Do you believe in that God?

There are many scriptures that corroborate this truth. Could this be the reason for some of the disasters we are seeing?

To say that climate change is causing all these violent storms is to reject everything God says about this subject. Those who believe in that wouldn’t all say they are anti-God or irreligious. But what they are saying is in direct conflict with what God says. And whose view on this issue do you think will prevail?

Science’s recommendations have been failing for decades. The insistence is that the complete rearranging of the world by “expert” design will at some point bring results. But there is a more certain, quicker and effective method: turning to God.

2020 had the most major weather disasters ever for America. And man was to blame. Taking care of our environment is important. But it is not at the heart of the solution. Instead, the priority must be to recognize how we have angered God, and to turn to Him and His law. A good way to start is to request our free booklet Why ‘Natural’ Disasters? Study it carefully with your Bible and understand what God’s perspective is. Only by understanding His perspective and turning to Him can we finally have success in solving the problem of weather-related disasters.