The numbers from 2011 are striking. From Stateline:
Through the third week of September, Obama had issued 84 federal disaster declarations at the request of governors. That is more declarations than in any year since the score was first kept six decades ago. And there are still three months left in 2011.
Emergency managers blame the weather, but there has been a noticeable increase ever since Hurricane Katrina. Whatever the cause, many states and the federal government are struggling to keep up with all the requests for help.
Christopher Emrich, a University of South Carolina professor who studies weather-related damage, says the country is experiencing more damage both from major events — like Hurricanes Katrina or Irene — and from “recurrent, chronic events that really don’t make the newspaper headlines.”
“Even if climate change does not influence future hazards,” says Emrich, “we clearly have droughts (now) that we can’t contend with, flooding we can’t contend with, and hurricanes and tropical systems that we have not adopted to.”
The trend is easy to see when plotted over time, as in our infographic here.