Another Year of Record-Breaking Weather Extremes Shows Why We Must Be Prepared


It's official, folks. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)--the official government agency in charge of weather and climate forecasts and records, among many other duties--has announced that 2015 was officially the second hottest year on record for the U.S. This record was set due to blazing heat in December--a total of 29 states experienced their hottest December on record. In fact, every state east of the Mississippi River saw their warmest December since official records began 121 years ago. While El Niño has played a small role, scientists have determined that dangerous carbon pollution deserves the overwhelming blame for this record heat.

(Image Credit: NOAA)

In addition to the record-shattering heat, the U.S. also saw the third wettest year on record. Many states experienced precipitation levels significantly above average. While Texas and Oklahoma had their wettest years on record, California once again experienced abnormally dry conditions, extending the state's historic drought into a fifth year.


(Image Credit: NOAA)

If that weren't bad enough, the U.S. also experienced 10 weather and climate disasters--drought, flooding, severe storms, and wildfire--where damages exceeded $1 billion a piece. These disasters resulted in the deaths of 155 people, the destruction of entire neighborhoods, and significant economic damage. This disaster tally includes the recent devastating floods along the Mississippi as well as the torrential flooding in South Carolina this past fall.


(Image Credit: NOAA)

Another year of record-breaking heat and extreme weather underscores the importance of proactive planning to reduce the toll of future disasters. We know that climate change is worsening many types of disasters, including heat waves, floods, and droughts. That's why we have been working on multiple fronts to get federal policies and programs to address these growing extreme weather and disaster risks by:

2015 was a record-breaking year for weather extremes, but thanks to climate change, it's unlikely to be the last. We must plan and prepare for the record-breaking years ahead.