US shatters record for disaster costs in 2017
Hurricane Harvey - The hurricane hit Texas around 11 p.m. ET on Friday, August 25, between Port Aransas and Port O'Connor. The Category 4 storm became a Category 1 by late Saturday morning, packing winds of 75 mph before Harvey stalled dropping trillions of gallons of rain over Texas. Harvey busted the US record for rainfall from a single storm, dumping 51 inches of rain in parts of Texas flooding much of the Houston Metro for days.
2017 was the costliest year ever for weather and climate disasters in the United States, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday, totaling $306 billion. The previous record year, 2005, saw $215 billion in disasters.
Highlighted by a string of hurricanes that pounded the southeastern US coast in August and September, as well as devastating wildfires that torched large swaths of Northern and Southern California, 2017 saw 16 weather events that each topped a billion dollars in damage.
This ties 2011 for the most billion-dollar weather events to occur in a single year, but their extreme nature and the breadth of disaster types really set last year apart.
Billion-dollar US weather and climate disasters in 2017
This map denotes the approximate location for each of the 16 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters that impacted the US during 2017. Source: NOAA
"In 2017, we have seen the rare combination of high disaster frequency, disaster cost and diversity of weather and climate extreme events," said Adam Smith, lead researcher at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.
"The U.S. has endured billion-dollar impacts from six of the seven disaster categories we track," he said: drought, flood, freeze, severe storm, tropical cyclone, wildfire and winter storm. There hasn't been a year when all seven disaster categories have seen a billion-dollar disaster.
2017 lacked only a billion-dollar winter storm -- though we almost certainly had one in the first week of 2018 with the major nor'easter termed a "bomb cyclone."