US sets new cost record for major disasters

US sets new cost record for major disasters

The United States set a new record last year for the total cost of weather and climate change-related disasters that exceeded $1 billion, driven largely by wildfires and hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Center for Environmental Information said in a Monday report that the 16 disasters that cost more than $1 billion added up to $306 billion. The total number of disasters tied with 2011 for a record, while the total cost was a new high.

“The damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria alone are responsible for approximately $265.0 billion of the $306.2 billion,” Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithDem congresswoman: Imprisoned asylum-seeking women have no idea where their children are Overnight Defense: Latest on scrapped Korea summit | North Korea still open to talks | Pentagon says no change in military posture | House passes 6B defense bill | Senate version advances House easily passes 7B defense authorization bill MORE, an economist at NOAA, wrote in a blog post. “Each of these destructive hurricanes now joins Katrina and Sandy, in the new top 5 costliest U.S. hurricanes on record.”

The $306 billion total is also a new cost record worldwide for one country for a year.

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Smith attributed the new cost record to increasing wealth and population, as well as effects of climate change like drought and flooding.

The previous record year for $1 billion disasters was 2005, the year of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with an inflation-adjusted $214.8 billion cost.

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

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

NOAA also announced Monday that 2017 was the third-warmest year on record within the United States, at 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. The only warmer years were 2016 and 2012.