2017 set to break record for number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the US

Contributor: Will Bugler

2017 may end up being the most costly year on record for climate and weather disasters, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), the U.S.’s scorekeeper for recording and calculating the cost of extreme weather events. As of October the 6th, there has been 15 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion across the United States.

In the first 9 months of 2017, the U.S. experienced 15 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. 2017 ties the record year of 2011 for the most (15) billion-dollar disasters for the year to date. The record number of billion-dollar disasters for an entire calendar year is 16 events set in 2011. The 2017 events include two floods, a freeze, seven severe storms, three tropical cyclones, a drought and wildfire – collectively causing 282 fatalities.

NCEI provides summaries of global and U.S. temperature and precipitation trends, extremes, and comparisons in their historical perspective. The 1980–2016 annual average is 5.5 events (CPI-adjusted); the annual average for the most recent 5 years (2012–2016) is 10.6 events (CPI-adjusted).

The U.S. has sustained 218 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2017). The total cost of these 218 events exceeds $1.2 trillion. This total does not yet include the costs for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which are still being assessed.


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