Breakdown: Why weather-related disasters are increasing

Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 7:21 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2021 at 8:01 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) showed that over the past 50 years a disaster related to weather, climate or a water hazard occurred every day on average. Between 1970 and 2019, there were more than 11,000 disasters. The cost of damage caused by natural disasters has risen from $50 billion in the US per year in the 1980s to $200 billion per year in the last decade.

The year 2005 was a memorable year. Globally, it was the largest amount of natural disasters and it claimed more than 90,000 lives after 442 incidents. In addition 60 million people were in need of immediate assistance in 2005 alone.

In 2017 there were three events that caused some of the highest impacts financially. 2017 saw Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma hit the US. Hurricanes Harvey (US$ 96.9 billion), Maria (US$ 69.4 billion) and Irma (US$ 58.2 billion). These storms produced a lot of flooding and flooding is one of the disasters that happen the most. From 1990 to 2019, a total of 9,924 natural disasters occurred globally, of which 42 percent were floods.

According to some scientist climate change has increased extreme sea level events associated with some tropical cyclones, which have increased the intensity of other extreme events such as flooding and associated impacts. These changes have made low-lying areas, deltas, coasts and islands in many parts of the world. An increasing number of studies are also finding human influence sometimes in conjunction with other major climate influences are also to blame.

Changes in climate, especially the warming of global temperatures increases the likelihood of weather-related natural disasters. Hotter global temperatures increase the risk of extended dry periods, and can cause storms to be more intense and create wetter monsoons.

Fortunately, the amount of people dying from weather-related incidents dropped. The death toll fell from over 50 000 deaths in the 1970s to less than 20,000 in the 2010s according to research. More than 90% of the deaths related to weather disasters have occurred in developing countries.

Improvements to warning systems have helped limit the number of deaths but scientist agree that more needs to be done.

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