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 Wisconsin, as the state faced severe storms that took a steep economic toll amid the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The data draws a painful picture of the harm of 2020. Wisconsin experienced dangerous flooding throughout the summer, forcing residents to evacuate during the ongoing pandemic, destroying homes, and making roads impassable. At least one person died from the flooding. The Badger State was also hit by high winds, tornados, and localized flooding stemming from the derecho that devastated large parts of the Midwest in August. Heavy rains resulted in eight straight months of record-high water levels in Lake Michigan, which eroded the shoreline and destroyed coastal communities.

Extreme heat also plagued Wisconsin, 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.

“Wisconsin’s cycle of scorching heat followed by severe storms offers a grim glimpse into our future if we fail to take bold, immediate climate action. The relentless storms and extreme temperatures impacted every Wisconsinite, 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 Wisconsin’s communities and across the country this year. You can see a full month-by-month list of climate events from 2020 HERE