All told, the disasters, which ranged from California's ongoing, historic drought to flash flooding in Michigan, took a total of 53 lives. While 2014 was less costly than some particularly devastating recent years, NOAA notes that the eight billion dollar-plus events "had significant economic effects on the areas impacted."
Weather happens. But climate change is already making droughts drier, heavy rainfall events wetter -- and likelier -- and tornado outbreaks potentially more common and severe. The most recent report from the U.N. International Panel of Climate Change anticipates that as warming continues, there are more changes in extreme weather events to come.