A Running List of Record-Breaking Natural Disasters in 2020

So considerably 2020 has been a standout calendar year for all the wrong motives, which include its devastating natural disasters. Wildfires have ravaged the western U.S., and tropical cyclones have popped up still left and correct, with numerous triggering significant hurt to coastal areas. The hottest storm, Hurricane Delta, is headed for the Gulf Coast.

Though they are identified as natural disasters, the toll they get will come in element from human steps. The buildup of communities in susceptible areas, such as alongside the coasts and fireplace-vulnerable areas of the West, signifies extra men and women are in harm’s way. Climate modify, fueled by greenhouse gas emissions from strength use and industrial procedures, has also upped the ante. Hotter weather dries out the grasses and forest particles that can ignite, fueling greater and longer-long lasting wildfires. And mounting seas and heavier downpours mean higher flood pitfalls all through storms.

These aspects have helped force some of this year’s disasters to surpass—and in some conditions, shatter—previous records. This is a managing checklist of all the types that have been established this calendar year.


The 2020 Atlantic hurricane year has presently been a doozy, and it does not even officially end until eventually November 30. Right here are some of the records it has presently achieved:

  • This is only the second time that the formal alphabetical checklist of hurricane names has been used up, which means forecasters have experienced to go to the supplementary checklist of Greek letter names.
  • If 3 extra storms form, 2020 will tie 2005 as the year with the most named storms on record: 28. (Named storms are all those that reach at the very least tropical storm strength, with winds of 39 to 73 miles for every hour.) If four extra form, this calendar year will established a new record.
  • 20-two of the 25 storms that shaped so considerably this year ended up the earliest of their storm number to do so. For case in point, Delta was the earliest twenty fifth named storm of any year, beating out Tropical Storm Gamma, which shaped on November 15, 2005.
  • If Hurricane Delta makes landfall as expected, it will be the 1st time ten named storms have hit the U.S. in a single year.
  • A Delta landfall will also be the 1st time a Greek alphabet named hurricane has manufactured landfall in the U.S.
  • September, which falls within the peak of the hurricane year, saw a record ten named storms form within the thirty day period. (The previous record was eight.)
  • In mid-September, there ended up five storms churning all around the Atlantic Ocean concurrently for only the second time on record.
  • September 18 marked the second time on record that 3 named storms—Wilfred, Alpha and Beta—all shaped on the exact same day. The only other time this was known to happen was on August 15, 1893, in advance of hurricanes obtained formal alphabetical names.

(The Atlantic hurricane databases, managed by the Nationwide Hurricane Middle, extends back again to 1851. The lists of alternating male and feminine hurricane names have been in use since 1979.)


Wildfires have taken an enormous toll on western U.S. communities, equally from flames and harmful smoke. California has borne the worst of it. Right here are some of the records that have been established:

  • Fires have so considerably burned extra than four million acres across California, about doubling the previous record of approximately two million acres established in 2018. Top quality records of fires dimension in California go back again to 1932.
  • The August Complicated Hearth on your own has burned extra than one million acres, by considerably the biggest in California’s record. The previous record of extra than 459,000 acres was established in 2018 by the Mendocino Complicated Hearth.
  • 5 of California’s 6 biggest fires are burning this calendar year.
  • Colorado’s Pine Gulch Hearth was the biggest in condition record, burning extra than 139,000 acres.

Rain and Flooding

Weighty rain despatched h2o ranges in the Tittabawassee River to record highs in Could, triggering the failures of the Edenville and Sanford dams around Midland, Mich. Some ten,000 citizens experienced to evacuate because of the subsequent floods.


So considerably this calendar year, the U.S. has experienced 16 natural disasters (which include wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and drought) that every single brought on at the very least $1 billion in hurt, tying the record established in equally 2011 and 2017—with numerous months still left to go. These data have been compiled since 1980.