2017 was costliest year ever in United States for weather, climate disasters

US Natural Disasters In 2017 Were Expensive AF

Last year's total was enough to break the previous record, set in 2005, when the US saw more than $215 billion in disaster-related damage, such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita's landfall along the Gulf Coast and the Labor Day brush fire in Southern California.

Previous year saw the US hit by a series of hurricanes, wildfires and freezing temperatures, with a combination of spending on property damage and aid and relief costing $306 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States has experienced 219 weather disasters since 1980 - costing a total of $1.5 trillion including Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma. And Hurricane Irma, which lashed Florida in September, was the third-costliest disaster in 2017 with $50 billion damage, according to NOAA. These included two inland floods, one freeze event, eight severe storms, three tropical cyclones, as well as drought and wildfire.

The National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of NOAA calculated the total price of 2017 disaster: $306 billion dollars. At a cost of $125 billion, Harvey's damage trails only Hurricane Katrina's in 2005. In contrast, news reports from Puerto Rico-a US territory devastated by the 2017 hurricane season-indicate the post-hurricane death toll on the island alone could exceed 1,000 Americans. Past year shattered the previous cost record, which was set in 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Dennis, and Wilma caused $214 billion in damage (adjusted for inflation).

"2017 was a historic year for billion-dollar weather and climate disasters", said Adam Smith, an economist for NOAA, on a call with reporters.

Total losses amounted to $306bn the agency said, over $90bn more than the previous record set in 2005. "However, the data shows an overall increased frequency in these events, and an associated increase in intensity", said Robert Watson, the former chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who co-authored a recent report on the economic consequences of extreme weather disasters influenced by climate change.

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It noted the five warmest years for the United States all have occurred since 2006.

The catastrophes came during a third consecutive year of above-average annual temperatures across the contiguous USA and Alaska, the NOAA report found. (Hawaii also saw record temperatures, but was not included in the report). The rest of the costly disasters in 2017 are a mix of tornadoes, floods, and severe thunderstorms.

The report from Noaa says that across the USA, the overall cost of these fires was $18bn, tripling the previous wildfire cost record. The bulk of the damage, at $265 billion, came from hurricanes in particular. While NOAA did not explicitly state that the direct cause of these disasters was global warming, there is evidence that climate change exacerbates disasters like flooding and wildfires. They also tagged 2017 as the most expensive hurricane season ever.

This was the third straight year that all 50 states had above-average temperatures for the year.

"In the USA, we're seeing more severe droughts, wildfires, crop losses and more frequent coastal storms with deadly impacts", Martin added. Only 2012 and 2016 were warmer.

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