Nor’easters Join List of 2018 $1 Billion Disasters

By Brian K. Sullivan | April 10, 2018

Thanks to the nor’easters that hit New York and the East Coast, the U.S. has already had three $1 billion weather disasters since January, half the number in an average year.

January and March winter storms that flooded the East Coast, dumping snow by the foot, accounted for two of the events, according to a statement Friday from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information. The third was a tornado outbreak in the U.S. South. In all 34 people died, with 22 in the January nor’easter.

The January storm made the list because of record flooding in Boston. Jake Crouch, a physical scientist at the national centers in Asheville, North Carolina, said the coastal flooding was made worse by rising seas linked to climate change.

“Without the coastal flooding, the storm costs would not have exceeded the $1 billion threshold,” Crouch said.

From 1980 to 2018 there have been 230 $1 billion-plus events, with a total cost exceeding $1.5 trillion. Last year had the most, with 16 disasters costing more than $300 billion. While it’s often difficult to draw a direct link between climate change and specific events, the long-term trend has the number of these disasters increasing, and there is a connection to climate change.

In the eastern U.S., March was colder than February in many places, including New York’s Central Park, Boston and Washington, according to National Weather Service records. The same was true last year in Boston and New York.

“It has been a weird couple of years,” Crouch said.

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