Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

U.S. spends record $306 billion on weather, climate disasters in 2017

Losses from weather and climate disasters including hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and wildfires in northern California reached a record $306 billion in 2017, the federal government's National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina, said in a report Monday. That ties 2011 for the number of billion-dollar disasters, but the total cost of damages blew past the previous record of $215 billion in 2005.

"Natural disasters have caused a record-setting amount of damage in the US this year", Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of IL tweeted in response to the report.

The only category that did not see a $1 billion disaster past year was a winter storm.

Hurricane Harvey, which caused massive flooding in Texas, cost $125 billion, second only to 2005's Katrina, while Maria's damage in Puerto Rico cost $90 billion, ranking third, NOAA said.

Hurricane Irma racked up $50 billion in damages, landing it as the third-costliest weather and climate disaster of the year.

A researcher for NOAA told CNN that climate change is "amplifying the frequency and intensity of certain types of extreme weather that lead to billion-dollar disasters".

The nation's $1 billion disasters previous year were: three hurricanes, eight severe storms, two inland floods, a crop freeze, a drought and a wildfire.

It was also the most expensive hurricane season on record at $265 billion and the costliest wildfire season on record at $18 billion, Smith said.

The announcement came at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Austin, Texas.

For the third-consecutive year, every state in the contiguous USA and Alaska had an above average annual temperature.

Arndt said the USA - which has had above normal annual temperatures for 21 straight years - is showing the same warming effects as the rest of the world. Records go back to 1895.

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