Billion-dollar weather is a growing trend. But even when extreme weather doesn’t produce damage, weather-related power outages such as those currently gripping California can be costly and people are looking more closely at microgrids and other technologies to help.
Ten weather and climate disaster events across the United States this year through September caused losses exceeding $1 billion each, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They included three floods, five severe storms and two tropical cyclones, including Hurricane Dorian, which alone has been estimated to cost the Bahamas as much as $7 billion.
“The overall velocity, intensity and impacts of disruptive events is increasing significantly,” Andrew Zolli, vice president of global impact initiatives at earth-imaging company Planet Inc., said during a VERGE 19 workshop about extreme weather technologies. Even if you don’t count the additional impact of more severe weather, with population growth, extreme weather events are affecting more people.
This year’s weather-related losses could top last year’s 14 official natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires to winter storms, which cost U.S. businesses, residents and governments an estimated $91 billion, according to NOAA. Eighty percent of the total loss, $73 billion, was caused by just three events: Hurricane Michael in Florida; Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas; and wildfires in California and other western states, which caused at least $24.5 billion in damage, according to the agency.
Losing power adds to the impact of a disaster, but even blackouts by themselves can cause economic losses. ..read more