Billion-dollar climate disasters rise with drought in Colorado, the American West |

Billion-dollar climate disasters rise with drought in Colorado, the American West

Michael Booth
The Colorado Sun
White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams and other forest personnel stop at the Hanging Lake rest area to assess progress of the Grizzly Creek Fire on the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. In recent years, Colorado has endured the largest and most destructive wildfires on record, which is why legislators say the U.S. Forest Service must move quickly in coming up with a plan to allocate new funding streams available to the department for forest health and restoration projects.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Record drought in the American West contributes to a growing number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters across the country, and the quickening pace of large-scale events makes recovery slower and pricier, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Drought covered 63% of the contiguous United States on Oct. 25, the largest such footprint since the severe drought of 2012, according to the report, released Tuesday at Denver’s national convention for the American Meteorological Society. 

Forty percent or more of the lower 48 states has been in drought for the past 119 weeks, a record in more than 20 years of the U.S. Drought Monitor reports. That’s approaching double the previous record of 68 weeks begun in 2012’s drought. 

Impacts of drought hit tourism, agriculture, transportation through shutdowns of a dry Mississippi River barge industry, and other economic sectors, said NOAA climate researcher Adam Smith.

“We can see how drought costs tens of billions of dollars, across many different industries,” he said. 

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