January 30, 2023

NOAA Predicts California Storm Could Cost $1b

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A climatologist with The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting that the ongoing storms in California will likely be the first billion-dollar storm of 2023 in the United States.

“The size of California, so many assets that are vulnerable near the coast, large populations, large economic sectors be impacted,” Adam Smith explained. 

Smith is an applied climatologist at NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information. He’s the lead researcher for the annual “Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disaster’s” report.

“It takes into account many different impacts such as damage to homes, businesses, government assets like schools, all the contents of those structures,” Smith said. “Your time element losses, like business interruption or loss of living quarters, of course, damage to vehicle boats, piers, levees, electrical systems, even military bases, and even agricultural damage, which of course, California has a lot of that with crops, livestock, commercial timber, and the wildfire fighting suppression costs as well.”

Who’s paying?

“The state government, the federal government and the private sector with insurance are the three primary payment entities,” Smith said, “But it does come down to the local level of your home, your business, yourself, your family.”

For example, if all of your food in your fridge goes bad due to power loss, that’s not included. 

“So you could actually say that this is a conservative baseline estimate, that captures kind of the core of the costs,” Smith said.

That’s something Terri Pullen, a Lemon Hill resident, is dealing with now. 

“The refrigerator, everything in the fridge is gone,” Pullen said. “Bad. Gotta clean that out, and it’s completely dark.”

Smith said the larger the event, the longer it takes to finish analyzing. They’re still not done analyzing the Buffalo blizzard over Christmas. He expects we’ll know for sure if this was a billion dollar storm by the end of January – into February.

The last time California has had a billion dollar storm was just last year with the severe drought and heat wave that impacted the west and central states. 

Last years storms was the third most costly year in terms of climate disasters in 43 years.