North America was hit by 160 natural disasters in 2016, more than any other year since records began in 1980, according to an analysis by the global
reinsurance firm Munich Re. The disasters — which included floods, wildfires, droughts, heat waves, and coastal storms — caused an estimated $55 billion in damage. Only 54 percent of those losses were insured, Munich Re said. Two of the world’s five most expensive natural catastrophes last year happened in North America — Hurricane Matthew in late September and major flooding in Louisiana in August. The U.S. alone experienced 19 major flood events in 2016, its highest number ever. Munich Re classifies a natural disaster as any event that caused at least $3 million in damage. “A look at the weather-related catastrophes of 2016 shows the potential effects of unchecked climate change,” Peter Höppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research Unit, said.