Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria combined with devastating Western wildfires and other natural catastrophes to make 2017 the most expensive year on record for disasters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Monday.
The only category that did not see a $1 billion disaster previous year was a winter storm.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noted that the USA suffered 16 billion-dollar disasters past year. Other large costs came from tornadoes, droughts, severe weather events, flooding and other causes.
Hurricane Harvey, which included extreme flooding in Houston and the surrounding area in August and September, caused $125 billion in damage, the year's most expensive disaster. NOAA officials said the analysis did not account for differences between those two factors. "We're more interested in quantifying what's going on". "Each of these destructive hurricanes now joins Katrina and Sandy, in the new top 5 costliest US hurricanes on record".
"We will update the number when that number becomes available, which could be substantially higher", Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the National Centers for Environmental Information, said on the call. However, the final totals are more than likely below the true amount as they do not include health care costs. Past year could arguably surpass 2011 for total events, the NOAA said, given that it treats all wildfires as a regional event rather than isolated incidents. Hurricane Irma raked across the Caribbean and hit Florida in September, causing $50 billion in total damage, NOAA reports. Counting uninsured losses, that figure climbed to $330 billion. Disasters in the US made up 50 percent of this year's losses, the German company said, compared to 32 percent on average years.
The weather agency also said that 2017 was the third-hottest year since records began, with an average annual temperature for the U.S. of 12.6C. NOAA's record of billion-dollar natural disasters goes back to 1980. Annual temperatures in another 32 states, including Alaska, ranked among the 10 warmest years on record.
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