The number of meteorological disasters in 2017 was unprecedented. So, too, was the dollar value of the damage they caused.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates the total cumulative damage of last year’s floods, fires, and other weather events was $306.2 billion, a new record in the U.S. That tops the $215 billion (CPI adjusted) that came in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina (and three other major storms).
Hurricanes made up the majority of the 2017 total, with Harvey, Irma, and Maria causing $265 billion in damages. Hurricane Harvey carried a cost of roughly $125 billion. Hurricane Irma saw costs of about $50 billion. And Hurricane Maria came in around $90 billion.
The California wildfires, which burned more than 9.8 million acres, destroyed over 15,000 homes and businesses, and caused 44 deaths, racked up a cost of $18 billion – three times the previous high mark of $6 million for wildfires set in 1991.
The report noted climate change was a significant factor in the number of disasters.
“The years 2017 and 2016 each had a historically high number of billion-dollar disasters that impacted the U.S. (16 and 15 events, respectively),” the NOAA report read. “However, in 2017, the U.S. experienced a rare combination of high disaster frequency, disaster cost, and diversity of weather and climate extreme events.”