Last year saw a record number of what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines as “billion-dollar events” — storms, droughts and wildfires that cause at least a billion dollars in damages. 

This year has seen the second-most, and there’s still about three months to go in the year.

Through Oct. 8, NOAA has counted 18 billion-dollar weather events. In 2020, it counted 22, the most since it started tracking in 1980.

Over the decades, the events have become more frequent and intense, with climate change playing a role in the disasters, according to the agency.

Since 1980, more than 300 events have caused more than $2 trillion in damages. About a third of that has happened in the past five years.

USA TODAY is funding a fellowship at Investigate Midwest for expanded coverage of agribusiness and its impact on communities.

Top photo: Storms in Champaign County, Ill., on Saturday, May 30, 2015. photo by Darrell Hoemann, Investigate Midwest

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