A mid-term report card of natural disasters that broke records in 2020

Randi MannDigital Reporter

Hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and hail are natural disasters, but 2020 has broken an alarming amount of records.

We think we can all agree that 2020 gets one big "F" on performance this year, across the board.

Pandemics, presidents, and pandemoniums aside, the earth is screaming at us in a really loud way.

The term "natural disaster" may need an update as the "natural" aspect of it could be misleading.

Natural disasters are impacted by human behaviour. For example, greenhouse gas emissions have accelerated the effects of climate change. Global warming has created drier environments for increased ignition and spread of wildfires. People have congregated in more wildfire-prone areas, creating more devastating impacts. Rising water levels means higher flood risk during extreme rain.

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2020 has broken records one disaster after another. As of mid-October, here's a list of leading record-breakers that appear to get "A+"s, but are actually an indication of underperformance.


Hurricane Delta is a major player in the 2020 hurricane season. It's only the second time that we've blasted through the alphabetical list of hurricane names and have had to use the Greek letter names.

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  1. First time dipping into the Greek alphabet since 2005: There goes Alpha: On to the Greek alphabet for Atlantic hurricanes.

  2. 22/25 storms have formed the earliest of their storm number. "For example, Delta was the earliest 25th named storm of any season, beating out Tropical Storm Gamma, which formed on November 15, 2005," shares Scientific American.

  3. The first time 10 storms have made landfall in the U.S. in a single hurricane season.

  4. Hurricane Delta is the first Greek letter storm to make continental landfall in the U.S.

  5. September was packed with 10 storms, the most of any year.

  6. At one time, there were five storms in the Atlantic. This is only the second time this has happenned.

  7. Wilfred, Alpha and Beta were all named on the same day. This is only the second time three storms have been named on the same day.

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Wildfires have been sweeping through California and other areas in western U.S. and Canada.

  1. Thus far, wildfires have burned more than 1,618,742 hectares across California. This doubles the last record from 2018.

  2. The August Complex Fire has taken out 404,685 hectares. This record squashes that of previous wildfires.

  3. 5/6 of California's largest wildfires have occurred in 2020.

  4. Colorado’s Pine Gulch Fire (56,251 hectares burnt) was the largest in the state's history.


The Tittabawassee River reached record-highs in May, which caused the Edenville and Sanford dams near Midland, Michigan, to fail. Around 10,000 people needed to evacuate their home.

Calgary hailstorm

On June 13, Calgary, Alberta, experienced a hail storm that caused $1.2 billion in damage ($1.2B Calgary hailstorm ranks as Canada's 4th costliest natural disaster).

Overall, it's been a trying year. It's definitely one for the history books. Perhaps we'll be spoiled with a year's-worth of happy jammed into the last few months of 2020.