What a Disaster! 2017 Weather Was Truly Historic

What a Disaster! 2017 Weather Was Truly Historic

The disasters caused $306 billion in total damage in 2017, during with 16 separate events caused more than $1 billion in damage each.

This marks 2017 as the costliest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Disasters included hurricanes, hail storms, flooding, tornado outbreaks, drought and wildfires. The total number of disasters tied with 2011 for a record, while the total cost was a new high. They also keep track of the cost of the damages that were done natural disasters.

Hurricane Maria-which swept through the Caribbean and hit Puerto Rico in September-cost $90 billion.

A recent report - The Economic Case for Climate Action in the United States - noted the number of extreme weather events has surged in recent decades with 21 in the 1980s, 38 in the 1990s, and 92 between 2006-16 - more than a twofold increase.

NOAA's report today echoes reports from the insurance industry, which has also cited 2017 as a record-breaking year for costly disasters globally. It shows that the continental USA had its third warmest year on record and, for the third consecutive year, every state across the contiguous U.S. and Alaska was warmer that average. According to the NOAA, that is triple the previous record for wildfires. The average between 1980 and 2017 was 5.8 events, but this has crept up to 11.6 events in the last five years.

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But the three hurricanes cost the United States most in damages, totalling around $265 billion with Hurricane Harvey becoming the costliest hurricane in USA history in terms of the destruction it wreaked.

NOAA estimates say the hurricane cost $125 billion, $17 billion more than the cost of estimated damage by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that had inundated 80 per cent of New Orleans.

NOAA experts demurred on this question on a media call, declining to apportion how much of the large damage could be attributed to a changing climate, as opposed to other factors. But, data until August shows that 2017 ranked third behind 2016, and 2015 which were the hottest 2-year period since the 20 century. More than four months after the storm first hit Puerto Rico, residents on the island are still living with the effects of Hurricane Maria, from persistent blackouts (a little more than half of residents have electricity) to raw sewage in waterways. An historic firestorm savaged over 15,000 homes, businesses and other structures in northern California in October, with the combined destruction of the Tubbs, Atlas, Nuns and Redwood Valley wildfires ringing in as the most costly wildfire event on record.

"We are still going to see blue blobs on the map, but when they average out with the pinks and red that we see over the course of the year, we end up seeing a pretty warm year".

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