Climate and weather-related disasters have increased five-fold in 50 years, but early warning saves lives: WMO report (2023)

According to the agencyAtlas of mortality and economic losses caused by extreme weather, climate and water phenomenaBetween 1970 and 2019, these natural hazards accounted for 50% of all disasters, 45% of all reported deaths, and 74% of all reported economic losses.

More than 11,000 disasters related to these hazards have been reported worldwide, with just over two million deaths and $3.64 trillion in damages. More than 91% of deaths occurred in developing countries.

Strengthening early warning to save lives

But the news isn't bad at all. Thanks to improved early warning systems and disaster management, the death toll has nearly tripled between 1970 and 2019, from 50,000 in the 1970s to less than 20,000 in 2010, the report explains.

“Economic losses increase as exposure increases. But behind the raw statistics lies a message of hope. The improvement of early warning systems for many hazards has led to a significant reduction in mortality. very simple,we are better than ever at saving lives", sayingOMMSecretary General Petteri Taalas.

Climate and weather-related disasters have increased five-fold in 50 years, but early warning saves lives: WMO report (1)

UN Photo/Albert González Farran

Extreme weather conditions, such as widespread drought, cause economic losses to farmers around the world.

The statistics tell the story

Of the top 10 natural disasters, droughts emerged as the deadliest threat during this period, causing 650,000 deaths, followed by storms with 577,232 deaths; floods that killed 58,700 people; and extreme temperatures, during which 55,736 people died.

Climate and weather-related disasters have increased five-fold in 50 years, but early warning saves lives: WMO report (2)


The deadliest disasters in the last 50 years.

(Video) Working Session: Early warning early action - Reducing disaster deaths and losses

spiral costs

Meanwhile, economic losses have increased seven-fold from the 1970s to 2010, rising from an average of $49 million to a whopping $383 million a day globally.

Storms, the most common cause of damage,caused the greatest economic losses in the world.

Three of the top 10 costliest disasters, all hurricanes that occurred in 2017, accounted for 35% of total economic losses caused by disasters worldwide between 1970 and 2019.

In the United States, Hurricane Harvey caused $96.9 billion in damage, Maria in the Caribbean $69.4 billion, and Irma $58.2 billion in Cape Verde.

Climate and weather-related disasters have increased five-fold in 50 years, but early warning saves lives: WMO report (3)


The costliest disasters from 1970-2019.

Traces of climate change

"Extreme weather, climate and water events are on the rise and will become more frequent and severe in many parts of the world as a result of climate change," said Taalas. "This means more heatwaves, droughts and wildfires that we've seen recently in Europe and North America."

(Video) Climate disasters have cost $5.8 trillion: UN report

Address URL tweeta

Over the past 50 years, extreme weather, climate and water conditions have caused an average economic loss of $202 million PER DAY. ) and Irma ($58.2 billion), according to a WMO report

World Meteorological Organization


More water vapor in the atmosphere has exacerbated extreme rainfall and flooding, and warming oceansaffected the frequency and extent of the most intense tropical storms– explained the head of the WMO.

WMO cites peer-reviewed research inBulletin of the American Meteorological Society,showing that between 2015 and 2017, 62 out of 77 reported events revealed high human impact. In addition, the likelihood of heatwaves has increased significantly due to human activity, according to several studies conducted since 2015.

OnAtlasexplains that the attribution of droughts to anthropogenic or human factors is not as clear as heatwaves due to natural variability caused by large oceanic and atmospheric oscillations, such as the El Niño weather pattern. However, the drought in East Africa in 2016-2017 was strongly influenced by the warm surface temperatures of the seas in the western Indian Ocean, which were caused by man.

Climate change has also intensifiedextreme sea level events associated with some tropical cyclonesthat have increased the intensity of other extreme events such as floods and their consequences. This has increased the vulnerability of low-lying megacities, deltas, coasts and islands in many parts of the world.

Furthermore, a growing body of research also shows that human influence is exacerbated by extreme rainfall events, sometimes in combination with other major climatic influences. Examples include extreme rainfall in eastern China in June and July 2016 and Hurricane Harvey which hit Houston in 2017.

(Video) Weather, climate disasters around the world have surged fivefold in 50 years: UN

Climate and weather-related disasters have increased five-fold in 50 years, but early warning saves lives: WMO report (4)

© UNICEF/Arimac Wilander

A woman walks on water in a flood-affected area in East Jakarta, Indonesia.

The need for adaptation

The report warns that only half of WMO's 193 member countries have early warning systems for many hazards, and that the meteorological and hydrological observation networks in Africa, parts of Latin America and the Pacific and Caribbean island states have serious gaps.

“Early warning systems save more lives, but it is also true that the number of people at risk of natural disasters is increasing due to the increase in population in areas at risk and the increasing intensity and frequency of disasters. Meteorological phenomena.Wider international cooperation is needed to address the chronic problem of large numbers of people displaced each year by floods, storms and droughts.said Mami Mizutori, UN Special Representative and Head of the Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

Ms Mizutori called for increased investment in comprehensive disaster risk management to ensure climate change adaptation is integrated into national and local disaster risk reduction strategies.

The head of the UNDRR has warned that the lack of disaster loss reduction set in 2015Rama Sendaiit threatens the ability of developing countries to eradicate poverty and achieve other important goalsSustainable Development Goals(ODS).

OnAtlasIt further recommends that countries review their exposures and vulnerabilities, taking into account the changing climate, to reflect the fact that tropical cyclones may have a different track, intensity and speed than in the past.

It also calls for an integrated and proactive policy to deal with natural disasters, such as droughts, which come slowly.

Climate and weather-related disasters have increased five-fold in 50 years, but early warning saves lives: WMO report (5)

© WFP/Mauricio Martinez

(Video) Building Synergies Between Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Action

A woman walks along a flooded road in Santo Tomas, San Salvador after Tropical Storm Amanda caused a landslide.

OnAtlasby region from 1970 to 2019


  • The 1,695 recorded disasters resulted in the deaths of 731,747 people and economic losses of $5 billion.
  • The continent is responsible for 15 percent of weather-, climate- and water-related disasters; 35 percent of related deaths and one percent of reported economic losses globally.
  • While flood-related disasters were the most common (60%), droughts caused the highest number of fatalities, accounting for 95% of all fatalities in the region, the majority in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Sudan.


  • 3,454 disasters were recorded, 975,622 people died, and economic damage amounted to $2 trillion.
  • Asia accounts for nearly a third or 31 percent of global weather, climate and water-related disasters, nearly half of all deaths and a third of related economic losses.
  • Forty-five percent of these disasters were related to floods and 36 percent to storms.
  • Storms claimed 72 percent of the lives lost, and floods caused 57 percent of the economic losses.

South America

  • The top 10 disasters recorded in the region account for 60% of the 34,854 fatalities, 38% of economic losses, equivalent to $39.2 billion.
  • Floods accounted for 90 percent of the events in the top 10 list of disasters by number of fatalities and 41 percent of the list of top 10 economic losses.
  • Floods were responsible for 59% of disasters, 77% of fatalities and 58% of economic losses in the region.

North America, Central America and the Caribbean

  • In the region, 74,839 people died and economic losses totaled $1.7 trillion.
  • The region was responsible for 18 percent of weather, climate, and water-related disasters, four percent of related deaths, and 45 percent of related economic losses globally.
  • Storms were responsible for 54 percent and floods for 31 percent of recorded disasters, with the former being associated with 71 percent of the fatalities and the latter 78 percent of the economic losses.
  • The United States accounts for 38 percent of global economic losses caused by weather, climate, and water hazards.

Southwest Pacific

  • The region has recorded 1,407 disasters, 65,391 fatalities and $163.7 billion in economic damage.
  • 45 percent of these disasters were related to storms and 39 percent to flooding.
  • Storms accounted for 71 percent of disaster-related deaths.
  • Disasters caused by weather, climate and water conditions in Australia accounted for 54 percent or $88.2 billion of economic losses across the region.


  • The 1,672 recorded disasters claimed 159,438 lives and $476.5 billion in economic damage.
  • Although 38 percent were attributed to floods and 32 percent to storms, extreme temperatures accounted for 93 percent of the deaths, with 148,109 people losing their lives.
  • The extreme heat waves of 2003 and 2010 were responsible for 80 percent of all deaths, resulting in 127,946 deaths.
(Video) WMO published its new report on weather-related disasters


Climate and weather-related disasters have increased five-fold in 50 years, but early warning saves lives: WMO report? ›

From 1970 to 2019, weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50 percent of all disasters, 74 percent of all reported economic losses, and 45 percent of all reported deaths, a latest WMO report said.

Have weather disasters become 5 times as common thanks in part to climate change? ›

Climate Change Makes Weather Disasters More Likely : NPR. Climate Change Makes Weather Disasters More Likely There has been a fivefold increase in the number of documented weather-related disasters in the last 50 years, driven in large part by climate change, a U.N. agency says.

What has been the trend in the number of disasters over the last 50 years? ›

The number of disasters has increased by a factor of five over the 50-year period, driven by climate change, more extreme weather and improved reporting. But, thanks to improved early warnings and disaster management, the number of deaths decreased almost three-fold.

Has the number of natural disasters increased? ›

The number and cost of weather and climate disasters is rising due to a combination of population growth and development along with the influence of human-caused climate change on some type of extreme events that lead to billion-dollar disasters. NOAA NCEI.

Have natural disasters increased because of climate change? ›

Deaths associated with severe storms, tropical cyclones, and wildfires have all increased in recent years. Meanwhile, deaths from droughts and winter freeze events have decreased since the 1980s. Over that time, deaths from freezes and wildfires accounted for the lowest percentage of deaths caused by natural disasters.


1. Is climate change being adequately accounted for in early warning early action?
(Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance)
2. The Role of Early Warning, Anticipatory Action & Effective Communication for Resilience Building
(UN Climate Change - Events)
(National Institute of Disaster Management)
4. UN: Weather disasters rise five-fold in the past 50 years | Money Talks
(Money Talks)
5. Special Session on International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction: Early Warning and Early Action
(Avoidable Deaths Network)
6. Message on the occasion of World Meteorological Day 2022 - English
(World Meteorological Organization - WMO)


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