2017 costliest year yet for U.S. natural disasters

Roofs ripped off houses in San Juan Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria slammed into the city

Roofs ripped off houses in San Juan Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria slammed into the city

In a year marked by deadly hurricanes, catastrophic floods, devastating wildfires and drought, the United States spent a record $308 billion cleaning up.

A trio of monster hurricanes and a ferocious wildfire season led to the costliest year for natural disasters on record in the U.S.in 2017, with almost a third of a trillion dollars in damage, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday.

Disputes over the NOAA's methodology aside, the 2017 events caused $306 billion in damage, with the vast majority of those costs coming from hurricanes, which accounted for $265 billion. The previous record was $215 billion in 2005, when hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita slammed the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Last year's disasters killed 362 people in the US, including Puerto Rico, NOAA said. The total number of disasters tied with 2011 for a record, while the total cost was a new high.

Meanwhile, Hurricanes Maria and Irma had total damages of $90bn and $50bn, respectively. Harvey ranks second only to Hurricane Katrina, which at $160bn is the costliest storm in the 38 years that records have been kept.

Other costly climate events included severe storms, drought, and floods. Extreme rainfall up to 37 inches caused widespread flooding and mudslides across the island.

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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.

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

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

Last year was also the third-hottest year on record, the NOAA said.

It noted the five warmest years for the United States all have occurred since 2006.

Global temperature data for 2017 will be released on January 18 by NOAA and NASA.

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