A new review by the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI), which accounts for events such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, has found that 2017 was the costliest year in weather-related damage in the history of the United States.
NCEI is responsible for monitoring and assessing weather events across the globe which have significant societal and economic impacts.
The experts report that there were 16 weather events in 2017 which exceeded one billion dollars in damage, including 1 drought, 2 floods, 1 freeze event, 8 severe storms, 3 tropical cyclones, and 1 wildfire.
Hurricane Harvey alone caused $125 billion in damage, and the total cost of 2017’s events is estimated at $306.2 billion. This number smashes the previous record of $214.8 billion, which was set in 2005 when Hurricanes Katrina, Dennis, and Rita struck.
According to NCEI, the United States has experienced 219 weather and climate disasters since 1980 that each generated costs of at least $1 billion. Overall, the cost of these 219 events exceeds $1.5 trillion.
Between 1980 and 2017, the yearly average of billion-dollar events is 5.8, and this average was nearly tripled last year. In addition to the increase in the cost and frequency of disasters in 2017, the extreme weather claimed the lives of 362 people.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a group of scientists brought together by the United Nations to keep the world informed on the current state of climate change.
The IPCC reports, “A changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events.”
The U.S. Billion-dollar Weather/Climate Disaster report is developed by NCEI for the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer