$306 Billion Damage: 2017 Hits Record As Most Expensive Year For US Natural Disasters


The past year marked the worst natural disasters, ranging from deadly hurricanes, blizzards, raging wildfires, and other extreme weather events in the United States.

Weather and climate calamities that struck in the past year have set a new annual United States record, which cost the economy a total of $306 billion. This amount surpassed the 2005 record of $215 billion when Hurricane Katrina devastated Mississippi.

In 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association recorded 16 costly extreme weather that resulted in $1 billion in damage each and a total of 362 deaths.

Among the events that impacted heavy costs cited in the overview released by the National Centers for Environmental Information were drought, flooding, freeze, severe storm, tropical cyclone, and wildfire.

Although individual events cannot be automatically linked to climate change, experts warned that extreme weather events will become more frequent in the future.

Deadly Hurricanes

The successive hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria that hit during the Atlantic hurricane season were among the costliest. Hurricane Harvey's record three landfalls and the massive rainfall it poured on South Texas and Louisiana has left 82 deaths and $180 billion in damage.

Storm surges brought by Hurricane Irma, the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded, resulted in 61 deaths and $200 billion in damage. Hurricane Maria that affected most parts of the United States territory in Puerto Rico left two million citizens without electricity during the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Hundreds were killed and remain unaccounted for.

Raging Wildfires

It was also a historic year for wildfires. Nearly two million acres of land or an area almost the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined were burned across the United States at the onset of the wildfire season last September.

The California and British Columbia wildfires were just as worse with the significant increase in number and sizes of fires. The cost to suppress the 2017 California wildfires, not including the still blazing Thomas wildfire, has already cost taxpayers' multimillions of dollars.

2017 Is Also The Hottest Year On Record

Extreme weather events marked the year and were capped with a verdict from NOAA that 2017 was the third hottest year on record for the United States, making it the 21st consecutive warmest year since 1996.

From January to December, the recorded average U.S. temperature was 54.6 degrees. December was the third warmest of the record, with an average temperature of 34.8 degrees across contiguous states.

It was a record warm year for Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina while Arizona and New Mexico were the warmest on record in the Southwest area. There are 32 other states that listed 2017 in their top 10 warmest years.

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