We Spent More Money Than Ever on Weather Disasters

Credit 3 hurricanes, wildfires, hail, flooding, tornadoes, and drought in 2017
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 8, 2018 12:43 PM CST
Our Bill for Weather Disasters Was Highest Ever in 2017
In this Dec. 7, 2017, file photo, firefighter Ryan Spencer battles a wildfire as it burns along a hillside toward homes in La Conchita, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

With three strong hurricanes, wildfires, hail, flooding, tornadoes, and drought, the United States tallied a record high bill last year for weather disasters: $306 billion. The US had 16 disasters last year with damage exceeding a billion dollars, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday. That ties 2011 for the number of billion-dollar disasters, but the total cost blew past the previous record of $215 billion in 2005. Costs are adjusted for inflation and NOAA keeps track of billion-dollar weather disasters going back to 1980, reports the AP. Four stand-out stats for 2017:

  1. Three of the five most expensive hurricanes in US history hit last year. Hurricane Harvey cost $125 billion, second only to 2005's Katrina, while Maria cost $90 billion, ranking third, NOAA said. Irma was $50 billion, for the fifth most expensive hurricane.
  2. Western wildfires fanned by heat racked up $18 billion in damage, triple the previous US wildfire record, according to NOAA.
  3. The weather agency also said that 2017 was the third hottest year in US records for the Lower 48 states with an annual temperature of 54.6 degrees—2.6 degrees warmer than the 20th century average. Only 2012 and 2016 were warmer.
  4. Five states—Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and New Mexico — had their warmest year ever. Temperature records go back to 1895.
(More natural disaster stories.)

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