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Colorado Saw 3 Weather Disasters That Cost A Billion Dollars Or More in 2018

Luke Runyon
A drought in the Four Corners region caused crop losses, shorted irrigation water and forced cattle sales in 2018.

Colorado experienced three natural disasters that each caused more than a billion dollars in damages in 2018.

Two of those events were hail storms. Last June, hailstones the size of baseballs blew out windshields and damaged roofs in the Denver metro area and north along the Front Range and plains.

Then again in August, softball-sized hail killed animals at a Colorado Springs zoo and sent several people to the hospital with injuries.

The third costly event was the ongoing drought in the Four Corners region that caused crop losses for farmers and forced cattle sales among ranchers. The most intense drought effects reached from southwestern Colorado into northern New Mexico, southern Utah and northern Arizona.

Last year, the country as a whole experienced 14 weather and climate-related disasters with damages costing more than a billion dollars, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Credit National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The U.S. experienced 14 weather or climate events in 2018 that caused more than a billion dollars in damage.

The total cost from those 14 events is around $91 billion. The number of billion-dollar events ranked fourth highest since records began in 1980.

Hurricane Michael was the most expensive natural disaster in 2018. The storm that pummeled Florida’s Gulf Coast in October caused $25 billion in damages. Second and third were the costs associated with wildfires in California last fall, and Hurricane Florence, which hit North and South Carolina in September. Each of those events caused $24 billion in damages.

At least 247 people died in the 14 billion-dollar events during 2018.

As KUNC’s managing editor and reporter covering the Colorado River Basin, I dig into stories that show how water issues can both unite and divide communities throughout the Western U.S. I edit and produce feature stories for KUNC and a network of public media stations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada.
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