Special Report

Most Devastating Natural Disasters in America in 2021

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5. Southeast, Central Tornado Outbreak
> Estimated damages: $3.9 billion
> Duration: Dec. 10, 2021
> Deaths: 93

An unusual outbreak of December tornadoes unleashed their wrath on several southeastern and central states, including two very strong and sustained twisters, as they cut through Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The storm produced the longest tornado track (the path a tornado takes after touching ground and until it dissipates) on record for the month of December: 166 miles through Kentucky and part of Tennessee.

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4. Western Drought and Heat Wave
> Estimated damages: $8.9 billion
> Duration: Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2021
> Deaths: 229

Drought conditions endured throughout the year across many Western states, inflicting huge agricultural losses and shutting down California’s Lake Oroville hydroelectric plant for the first time since it opened in 1967. Extreme heat also impacted millions of people in the Northwest, causing more than two hundred fatalities.

3. Western Wildfires
> Estimated damages: $10.6 billion
> Duration: June 1-Dec. 31, 2021
> Deaths: 8

Western drought conditions and periods of extreme heat sparked another hugely damaging string of wildfires across California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Arizona. The so-called Dixie Fire (the second-largest single wildfire recorded in California) sent more than 960,000 acres and over 1,000 properties up in smoke. In total, over 7.1 million acres burned in the U.S. during the 2021 wildfire season.

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2. Northwest, Central, Eastern Winter Storm, and Cold Wave
> Estimated damages: $24 billion
> Duration: Feb. 10-19, 2021
> Deaths: 226

Historic cold weather and winter storms inflicted massive damage across much of the northern top of the contiguous United States, southward to Texas. At one point, power outages caused by the freak weather cut power to 10 million people. Texas, which operates an independent electrical grid in order to avoid federal power regulations, suffered rolling blackouts because it couldn’t rely on electricity from interstate U.S. grids.

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1. Hurricane Ida
> Estimated damages: $75 billion
> Duration: Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2021
> Deaths: 96

Hurricane Ida, the Category 4 storm responsible for more the half of the total cost of the weather disasters on this list, made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, about 100 miles south of New Orleans, damaging or completely destroying all of the homes in this coastal community. Millions of people in Louisiana lost power before the storm made its way into the Northeast, causing flash flooding from eastern Pennsylvania to New York.

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