According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. confirmed another billion-dollar disaster in October, bringing the total to a record 25 disasters in the first 10 months. This is the largest number of disasters for any year since NOAA has kept track of these types of events. It is also a sign of extreme weather that has grown increasingly frequent, severe, and unpredictable, with the threat of more such events for the remainder of 2023 and into the future.
As WaterISAC explained in its latest Threat Analysis for the Water and Wastewater Sector, which it published in May, the span of 2020-2022 saw the three highest years for billion-dollar weather and climate disasters since records began being kept. The current year now adds to and continues that record, making the past four years the highest for these types of disasters. The latest event to be added to the list for 2023 is the Southern/Midwestern Drought and Heatwave, which NOAA notes caused impacts to agriculture and led to portions of the Mississippi River experiencing low water levels impacting river commerce. Additionally, this low flow has allowed salt water from the Gulf of Mexico to migrate northward, along the bottom of the Mississippi River, impacting water quality in southern Louisiana (as WaterISAC reported on separately here). While future billion-dollar disasters are unpredictable, as a review of the year’s previous disaster reflects, in the near-term there is the threat of flood events, especially on the West Coast, from a strong El Niño that could develop this winter (as WaterISAC reported on separately here). Read more at NOAA, NBC News, and Domestic Preparedness.