Severe Weather in 2017 Costs Americans $306 Billion

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The average temperature in the United States last year was 54.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That’s 2.6 degrees above average and the third-warmest year in the United States since record-keeping began 123 years ago.

Including all weather-related losses, damage from last year’s storms totaled $306 billion, a U.S. record. At least 362 people died and many more were injured in weather and climate disasters recorded by NOAA last year. There were 16 weather events that caused more than $1 billion in damage each. Since 1980, the U.S. has experienced 219 weather and climate disasters that caused damages exceeding $1.5 trillion.

The 1980 through 2017 annual average for $1 billion or more events is 5.8, according to NOAA. The annual average for the most recent five years (2013 through 2017) is 11.6 events.

The higher average U.S. temperature also marked the 21st consecutive year that the annual average exceeded the average. Every state except Hawaii saw above-average annual temperatures.

Three major 2017 hurricanes collectively caused $265 billion in damage: Harvey, $125 billion; Irma, $50 billion; and Maria, $90 billion. Harvey is the second-costliest storm ever, trailing only 2005’s Katrina in the 38-year period that the NOAA has kept these records. All three major storms made landfall as Category 4+ storms, another first for 2017.

In addition to hurricane damage, wildfires in the western states caused $18 billion in damages. The combined destruction of the Northern California wildfires represent the most costly wildfire event on record and also caused 44 deaths. Extreme wildfire conditions in early December also burned hundreds of homes in Los Angeles. Numerous other wildfires across many western and northwestern states burned over 9.8 million acres, exceeding the 10-year annual average of 6.5 million acres. Montana in particular was affected by wildfires that burned in excess of a million acres. These wildfire conditions were enhanced by the preceding drought conditions in several states.

In addition to hurricanes and wildfires, NOAA cited one freeze, one major drought affecting several areas, two floods and eight severe storms as adding $1 billion or more to 2017’s total damage.

Visit the NOAA website to see records of billion-dollar disasters back to 1980. Here’s NOAA’s map of last year’s billion-dollar disasters:

Source: NOAA