Weather and climate disasters made 2017 costliet year for US

Commonwealth Avenue in August 2017

MoreCloseclosemoreCommonwealth Avenue in August 2017

Hurricanes, western wildfires and mass flooding made 2017 the costliest year on record for disaster recovery in the USA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Monday.

"The cumulative damage of these 16 U.S. events during 2017 is $306.2bn, which shatters the previous USA annual record cost of $214.8bn established in 2005".

In all, 362 people died in last year's 16 billion-dollar or more weather events. The interruption to commerce and standard living conditions will continue, as much of Puerto Rico's infrastructure is rebuilt.

Costs are adjusted for inflation but nonetheless, 2017 had three of the five most expensive hurricanes ever to hit the US.

Hurricane Maria was the second-costliest in 2017 with $90 billion in damages. Irma cost 50 billion (£37 billion).

Hurricane Maria now ranks as the third-costliest weather and climate disaster on record for the nation and Irma ranks as the fifth-costliest.

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Smith attributed the new cost record to increasing wealth and population, as well as effects of climate change like drought and flooding. "Most notably the rise in vulnerability to drought, lengthening wildfire seasons and the potential for extremely heavy rainfall and inland flooding", he added.

The announcement came at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Austin, Texas.

Scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information said 2017 was the third-warmest in the United States in 123 years since such data was recorded.

For the third consecutive year, every state across the contiguous US and Alaska was warmer than average. 2016 and 2012 were the only warmer years.

The federal agency's report underscores the economic risks of such disasters even as President Donald Trump's administration casts doubts on their causes and has started withdrawing the United States from a global pact to combat climate change.

"In the USA, we're seeing more severe droughts, wildfires, crop losses, and more frequent coastal storms with deadly impacts", Martin said.

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