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Natural Disasters in 2020: Are disasters occurring more frequently?

Natural disasters are occurring more frequently and impacting more communities than ever before. According to a recent FEMA report, over half of Americans report not having an adequate emergency plan – having emergency plans and the right supplies and emergency plans are more important than ever.


While certain areas of the world are more vulnerable to natural disasters than others, no country is exempt from natural disasters. The 21st century has already seen its fair share of deadly and extreme weather conditions. Below is snapshot from Wikipedia (excludes epidemics & famines):


From the Guardian, dated October 12, 2020:

The United Nations reports more than 7,000 extreme weather events recorded since 2000; Sharp rise in number of droughts, floods and wildfires has claimed 1.23 million lives and affected 4.2 billion people
Extreme weather events have increased dramatically in the past 20 years, taking a heavy human and economic toll worldwide, and are likely to wreak further havoc, the UN has said.
Heatwaves and droughts will pose the greatest threat in the next decade, as temperatures continue to rise due to heat-trapping gases, experts said.
China (577) and the US (467) recorded the highest number of disaster events from 2000 to 2019, followed by India (321), the Philippines (304) and Indonesia (278), the UN said in a report issued on Monday, the day before the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. Eight of the top 10 countries are in Asia.
Globally, 7,348 major disaster events were recorded, claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and causing $2.97tn (£2.3tn) in economic losses during the two-decade period.
Drought, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires and extreme temperature fluctuations were among the events causing major damage.
“The good news is that more lives have been saved, but the bad news is that more people are being affected by the expanding climate emergency,” said Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction. She called for governments to invest in early warning systems and implement disaster risk reduction strategies.
Debarati Guha-Sapir of the centre for research on the epidemiology of disasters at the University of Louvain, Belgium, which provided data for the report, said: “If this level of growth in extreme weather events continues over the next 20 years, the future of mankind looks very bleak indeed.

Link to October 2020 UN Report


According to the July 2020 Global Catastrophe Recap Report and DownToEarth.org:

  • At least 207 natural disasters were recorded globally in the first six months of 2020 — this is above the 21st century average (2000-2019) of 185 disasters. The number of events exceeded average in all regions except the Americas.

  • There was an increase of at least 27 per cent in natural disasters recorded during the same time in 2019. Between January and June 2019, at least 163 natural disasters were recorded.

  • These disasters cost the world $75 billion. This is close to the average loss of $78 billion during 1980-2019. These numbers are preliminary and will change as losses continue to develop, according to the report.

  • At least $71 billion, over 95 per cent of the loss, was due to the weather-related disasters. In fact, around 92 per cent of these disasters between January and June were weather-related.


US News & World Report lists America’s worst natural disasters of the 2010’s decade as follows:

  1. Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, 2017

  2. California's Wildfires, 2015-2018

  3. Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, 2017

  4. Superstorm Sandy on East Coast, 2012

  5. Tornado Outbreak in South & East, 2011

  6. Hurricane Michael in Florida, 2018

  7. Floods from 'Bomb Cyclone' in Mississippi Valley, 2019

  8. Tornadoes in Oklahoma City's Metro Area, 2013

  9. Flood Fatigue