DES MOINES, Iowa — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday released its summary on the weather events that caused at least $1 billion in damage last year, and Iowa’s Dec. 15 derecho and tornado outbreak was included in one of them.
In total, 20 billion-dollar disasters occurred in 2021 costing $145 billion, which ranked 3rd all time, behind 2005 ($244B) and 2017 ($346B). However, 20 was the second-highest number of billion-dollar disasters on record, right behind 2020 which saw 22 events costing $102B.
According to the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI), six thunderstorm events from the Midwest to South did $20.4B in damage, while six wildfires across the West did a combined $10.6B in destruction. The derecho, tornado outbreak, and non-thunderstorm related wind gusts that all happened on Dec. 15 did an estimated $0.7 billion of damage in Iowa.
Dec. 15, 2021, was a historic weather day for the state of Iowa. Sixty-one tornadoes were recorded, making it the worst tornado outbreak on record in Iowa and the only to occur in December. These tornadoes occurred in a line of storms known as a derecho, which had straight-line winds over 70 mph. Although derechos are common for the Midwest and South during the summer, this was the only derecho ever recorded in the United States in the month of December.
2021 was also the 4th hottest year on record in the U.S., measuring nearly 2.5° above the 20th century average temperature. Out of the 10 hottest years on record, seven of them have occurred since 2000, but six out of the seven have occurred in the last 10 years.