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Shared from the 2018-01-09 The Denver Post eEdition U.S. RECORD Cost of 2017 weather disasters: $306B

By Seth Borenstein
The Associated Press

Hailstones the size of golf balls fell in Edgewater in May. Insured losses in the Denver area exceeded $2.2 billion, making it the most expensive hailstorm in state history. Seth McConnell, Denver Post file

WASHINGTON» With three strong hurricanes, wildfires, hail, flooding, tornadoes and drought, the United States tallied a record-high bill last year for weather disasters: $306 billion.

The U.S. had 16 disasters last year with damage exceeding $1 billion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday. That tied 2011 for the number of billion-dollar disasters, but the total cost blew past the previous record of $215 billion in 2005.


Costs are adjusted for inflation, and NOAA keeps track of billion-dollar weather disasters going back to 1980.

Three of the five most expensive hurricanes in U.S. history hit last year.

Hurricane Harvey, which caused massive flooding in Texas, cost $125 billion, second only to 2005’s Katrina, while Maria’s damage in Puerto Rico cost $90 billion, ranking third, NOAA said. Irma was $50 billion, mainly in Florida, for the fifth-most expensive hurricane.

Western wildfires fanned by heat racked up $18 billion in damage, triple the U.S. wildfire record, according to NOAA.

Besides Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina all had more than $1 billion in damage from the 16 weather disasters in 2017.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the most costly impacts of a hailstorm in May were in the Denver area.

NOAA said insured losses exceeded $2.2 billion, making it the most expensive hailstorm in state history.

“While we have to be careful about knee-jerk cause-effect discussions, (many scientific studies) show that some of today’s extremes have climate change fingerprints on them,” said University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd, a past president of the American Meteorological Society.


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