Washington, D.C. — Extreme weather and record-breaking storms driven by climate change were unrelenting during 2020, causing billions in damages, burning millions of acres, and killing hundreds, according to a compilation released today by Climate Power. 

That destruction was felt throughout Georgia, as the state faced a historic hurricane season, severe flooding, and deadly tornadoes which took a steep economic toll amid the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data draws a painful picture of the harm of 2020. In May, NOAA predicted an “above normal” Atlantic hurricane season, expecting 13-19 named storms, including 3-6 major hurricanes. By mid-September, those predictions had already been exceeded, exhausting the alphabet. Georgia was struck by four storms and took indirect hits from several others. In 2020 alone, Georgia was hit with seven disasters that each totaled a billion dollars or more in damages, including Hurricanes Isaias and Sally. In October, the remnants of Hurricane Delta spawned two tornadoes in Georgia.

That same month, Hurricane Zeta caused the second-largest power outage in 2020, leaving 2.1 million people, including roughly 500,000 Georgians, without power. Power outages, severe flooding, and a seemingly constant threat of new storms loomed large over Georgia’s communities for much of the year.

Extreme heat also plagued Georgia, part of a worldwide trend driven by climate change. According to a statistical analysis done by NCEI scientists, 2020 is very likely to rank among the three-warmest years on record. September 2020 was the hottest September on the globe in 141 years of record keeping. The same is true for NovemberApril and May 2020 both tied previous temperature records. 

“Georgia’s record-breaking hurricane season was a grim glimpse into our future if we fail to take bold, immediate climate action. The relentless hurricanes, severe storms, and extreme heat impacted every Georgian, with Black and Brown communities facing disproportionate harm,” said Meghan Schneider, a spokesperson for Climate Power 2020. “If we do not act now, the climate disasters we saw in 2020 will be our new normal — the consequences of which will be catastrophic.” 

Below is a snapshot of the climate crisis and its toll on Georgia’s communities and across the country this year. You can see a full month-by-month list of climate events from 2020 HERE