Weather disasters cost $306b in 2017, says NOAA

Weather disasters cost $306b in 2017, says NOAA”

"The combined destruction of the Tubbs, Atlas, Nuns, and Redwood Valley wildfires represent the most costly wildfire event on record", according to the analysis by NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

Weather and climate-related disasters cost the United States (US) a record of $306 billion in 2017, the third-warmest year on record, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has said.

2017, one of the hottest years in modern history, was also an extremely costly year. Only 2012 and 2016 were warmer.

Five states ― Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina and SC ― experienced their warmest year on record.

This was the third straight year that all 50 states had above-average temperatures for the year. Annual temperatures in another 32 states, including Alaska, ranked among the 10 warmest years on record.

NOAA announced its figures at the society's annual conference in Austin, Texas. With three strong hurricanes, wildfires, hail, flooding, tornadoes and drought, the United States tallied a record high bill a year ago for weather disasters: $306 billion. However, the number has doubled in the last five years, i.e. between 2013 and 2017. Lest we forget the speed in which hurricanes like Maria and Irma intensified, and the record-breaking rainfall Harvey dumped on Texas - the latter of which is nearly certainly linked to a certain anthropogenic phenomenon. Disasters in the USA made up 50 percent of this year's losses, the German company said, compared to 32 percent on average years.

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Since 1980, when record-keeping began, the country has seen 219 weather-related disasters exceeding $1 billion. Irma was $50 billion, mainly in Florida, for the fifth most expensive hurricane. That ties 2011 for the number of billion-dollar disasters, but the total cost blew past the previous record of $215 billion in 2005.

The assessment released by NOAA for 2017 says the U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disasters, with each of them costing more than $1 billion. Western wildfires fanned by heat racked up $18 billion in damage, triple the US wildfire record, according to NOAA.

California, Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina all had more than $1 billion in damage from weather disasters.

The NOAA report highlights the extreme costs of climate and weather disasters despite President Donald Trumpand his administration's skepticism-and downright indifference-towards climate policy, from pulling the US out of the Paris agreement to dropping climate change from the list of national security threats. While there is no evidence which can directly blame global warming for these occurrences, proof exists that climate change increases the risks of flooding and wildfires.

The latter should not be underestimated in the cost tally.

"Perhaps it is time to mandate urban development in a more resilient and sustainable manner given the increasing frequency of weather extremes, especially along the nation's coasts", Susan Cutter, director of the University of South Carolina's Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, said in an email.

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