U.S. hits document for pricey climate disasters in 2017: $306 billion

Jonathan Bachman  Reuters                   Residents of Beaumont Place in Houston Texas wade through flood waters from Hurricane Harvey on Aug. 28 2017

But the three hurricanes cost the USA most in damages, totalling around $265 billion with Hurricane Harvey becoming the costliest hurricane in U.S. history in terms of the destruction it wreaked.

According to Associated Press reporting, the primary focus of the report is the number of natural disasters that hit the country previous year.

Natural disasters cost the United States $306 billion in 2017 says the country's scientific agency National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), making it the costliest year for natural disasters in U.S. history.

Hurricane Irma, that just followed Hurricane Harvey, cost the U.S. $50 billion, the fifth costliest in United States history of natural disasters, the NOAA assessment says.

NOAA estimates say the hurricane cost $125 billion, $17 billion more than the cost of estimated damage by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that had inundated 80 per cent of New Orleans.

Climate change has made weather events more destructive, with fiercer, more violent storms and prolonged droughts that transformed swaths of the west into tinderboxes, driving up the losses. NOAA officials said the analysis did not account for differences between those two factors.

Hurricane Harvey lashed many states of the USA in August, caused widespread flooding and displaced thousands.

This figure has been calculated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). "Both the economists and physical scientists will retrospectively look at that, but those sort of happen at the speed of science".

NOAA                   A map created by NOAA shows the 16 disasters that cost more than $1 billion
NOAA A map created by NOAA shows the 16 disasters that cost more than $1 billion

If 2017 is an indicator, a lot of heat can be expected in this new year.

Even with more accurate data, the report only offers a glimpse at the devastation caused by the disasters. That ties 2011 for the number of billion-dollar disasters, but the total far exceeded the previous record of $215 billion in 2005.

"We do not take into account things like health care-related costs, destruction of natural capital, physical and mental distress", Crouch said.

The findings mirror larger global trends.

Following graphic shows natural disasters that cost the United States 16 billion dollars.

Three of the five most expensive hurricanes in USA history hit a year ago.

The weather agency also said that 2017 was the third hottest year in US records for the Lower 48 states with an annual temperature of 54.6 degrees - 2.6 degrees warmer than the 20th century average. Along with this, five of the states in USA saw the warmest years on record. The only costlier year was 2011, when the Tohoku quake in Japan contributed to a total of $354 billion.

This was the third straight year that all 50 states had above-average temperatures for the year.

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