An article in Scientific American reviews the natural disasters that impacted the U.S. in 2019. According to the article, the responses to these incidents demonstrated both how well and how poorly the nation is prepared to withstand natural disasters in their current and yet consistently evolving state. In its look at the California wildfires, it reminds its readers of the public safety power shutoffs initiated by electric utilities in an effort to prevent equipment from sparking blazes. While acknowledging that it’s difficult to draw definitive conclusions about how much this strategy helped, it observes that the amount of destruction caused by wildfires this year dropped significantly. Specifically, California wildfires this year killed three people, burned 253,000 acres, and destroyed 732 structures. The numbers are minuscule compared with 2017 and 2018, when California wildfires killed a total of 144 people, burned 3.5 million acres, and destroyed 36,000 structures. Flooding, meanwhile, caused widespread destruction, with heavy precipitation events and major rivers like the Missouri and Mississippi reaching record heights and levees being breached and overtopped. The article makes some other interesting observations about the past year, such as that 2019 was an average year for natural disasters in the U.S. with 61 major disasters declared by the President (the average since 1996 is 58). While that may seem like good news, the bad news is that more than one-third of the country was hit by a hurricane, flood, storm, wildfire, or tornado severe enough to necessitate federal help. Disasters and emergencies were declared in 1,210 of the nation's 3,142 counties – the highest number since 2011. Read the article at Scientific American.