Weather disasters cost USA record $306 billion in 2017: NOAA

09 January, 2018, 01:55 | Author: Joy Garcia
  • A sheriff's officer passes by a beachfront home destroyed by Hurricane Irma

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Center for Environmental information (NCEI) said in a Monday report that the 16 disasters that cost more than $1 billion added up to $306 billion.

The U.S. endured 16 separate weather and climate disasters with losses that each exceeded $1 billion past year, with total costs of about $306 billion, a new record for the country.

Even as the total losses far surpass the previous record set in 2005 ($215 billion, largely due to Hurricane Katrina), the NOAA warned that total costs may rise even further as estimates for hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are still being evaluated.

"The cumulative damage of these 16 U.S. events during 2017 is $306.2bn, which shatters the previous U.S. annual record cost of $214.8bn established in 2005".

Scientists have long concluded that carbon dioxide and other emissions from fossil fuels and industry are driving climate change, leading to floods, droughts and more-frequent powerful storms. Harvey ranks second only to Hurricane Katrina, which at $160bn is the costliest storm in the 38 years that records have been kept.

In all, 362 people died in last year's 16 billion-dollar or more weather events. Extreme rainfall up to 37 inches caused widespread flooding and mudslides across the island.

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"During 2017, the U.S. experienced a historic year of weather and climate disasters", the weather agency said.

Meanwhile, the average annual temperature for the contiguous United States was 54.6 degrees Fahrenheit (12.6 degrees Celsius) in 2017, 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average and the third-warmest since recordkeeping began in 1895, following 2012 and 2016, the agency said.

For the third consecutive year, every state across the contiguous USA and Alaska was warmer than average.

"While the weather can change on a dime, our climate is steadily warming", said Shaun Martin of the World Wildlife Fund.

"In the USA, we're seeing more severe droughts, wildfires, crop losses, and more frequent coastal storms with deadly impacts", Martin said.

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