2017 blows out USA extreme weather records

Hurricane Harvey was year's costliest U.S. disaster at $125 billion in damages

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The government agency recorded 16 weather-related events that cost over $1 billion each in 2017, tying a record set in 2011 after the NOAA began record-keeping in 1980.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced today that 2017 was the costliest calendar of natural disasters in US history, totaling more than $306 billion in damages overall.

"The years 2017 and 2016 each had a historically high number of billion-dollar disasters that impacted the US (16 and 15 events, respectively)", the NOAA report read.

Hurricane Harvey, which ravaged Texas, left damages exceeding US$125 billion. These events included 1 drought event, 2 flooding events, 1 freeze event, 8 severe storm events, 3 tropical cyclone events, and 1 wildfire event. Hurricanes Maria and Irma had total costs of $90 billion and $50 billion, respectively.

Visit the NOAA website to see records of billion-dollar disasters back to 1980.

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But past year proved to be costlier, with disasters hitting all parts of the country - including three Atlantic hurricanes that caused a combined $265 billion, NOAA said.

Hurricane Maria, which devastated the Caribbean, including the US territory of Puerto Rico, caused $90 billion in damage, while Hurricane Irma, which hit the Caribbean islands and Florida in September, caused $50 billion worth of damage.

August's Hurricane Harvey, which caused devastating flooding in Houston, was the single costliest disaster in the USA last year, racking up $125 million in damages. Harvey is the second-costliest storm ever, trailing only 2005's Katrina in the 38-year period that the NOAA has kept these records.

A recent study shows 2017 was a record year for costly weather disasters. According to the NOAA, that is triple the previous record for wildfires.

The year 2017 made the history books for the costliest weather year on record. 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.

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Last week, Munich Re, one of the world's leading reinsurers, stated that the costs to the insurance industry from Harvey, Irma, and Maria and other 2017 disasters are expected to reach $135 billion globally, the highest ever, with the USA share dominating at 50 percent of these costs. Massive wildfires in California caused losses of 18 billion dollars.

"First and foremost, we must do more to prepare and protect communities ahead of time by investing in risk reduction and disaster preparedness, and by ensuring that our federal, state, and local policies are guided by the best available science".

Correction: This story was revised to correct NOAA's estimate for 2017 damages to more than $300 billion. Nationwide, it was the third-warmest year on record.

Scientists have long concluded that carbon monoxide and other fossil fuel and industrial emissions are driving climate change and causing more frequent floods, droughts and powerful storms.

The World Meteorological Organization said in November that the year would likely be one of the "top three hottest years on record".

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