Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - These billion-dollar natural disasters set a US record in 2017

These billion-dollar natural disasters set a US record in 2017

A beachfront house after Hurricane Irma, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Sept. 14, 2017. Extreme weather events caused a total of $306 billion in damage in the United States last year, making 2017 the most expensive year on record for natural disasters in the country, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said January 8, 2018. Luke Sharrett/The New York Times
A beachfront house after Hurricane Irma, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Sept. 14, 2017. Extreme weather events caused a total of $306 billion in damage in the United States last year, making 2017 the most expensive year on record for natural disasters in the country, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said January 8, 2018. Luke Sharrett/The New York Times

These billion-dollar natural disasters set a US record in 2017

by Kendra Pierre Louis

Extreme weather events caused a total of $306 billion in damage in the United States last year, making 2017 the most expensive year on record for natural disasters in the country, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday.

A trio of major hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, contributed hundreds of billions to the total. But the year was seemingly mired in disaster, from a freeze in the Southeast that damaged fruit crops in March, to hail storms that whipped across Colorado, Oklahoma and other central states in May, to the tornadoes that struck the Midwest in June.

Unusual consequences of extreme weather could be found all over the map. Thirteen cows died in a field in Pennington County, South Dakota, after ingesting anthrax spores from the soil; they had changed their grazing patterns during a drought that lasted much of the year in South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. The cows’ demise was a small part of the $2.5 billion of damage that struck the three states.

In all, there were 16 natural disasters that caused more than $1 billion of damage each in 2017. In 1980, when NOAA first started tallying records, there were only three such disasters, adjusted for inflation. This year’s $306 billion in damage broke a record set in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina contributed to a total of $215 billion in damage, also adjusted for inflation.

Scientists cannot always say with certainty that a given natural disaster was influenced by climate change. But some may be related to warming, and the contiguous United States experienced its third-warmest year on record in 2017. The temperature average was 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Here are the 16 billion-dollar disasters from 2017: Some made headlines for weeks, and some were simply overtaken in the public’s consciousness by the next one.

Hurricane Harvey, August: $125 billion

Hurricane Maria, September: $90 billion

Hurricane Irma, September: $50 billion

Western wildfires and California firestorm, autumn: $18 billion

Colorado hailstorm, May: $3.4 billion

Severe weather in the South and Southeast, March: $2.6 billion

Drought in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, spring through autumn: $2.5 billion

Minnesota hailstorm, June: $2.4 billion

Midwest tornado outbreak, March: $2.1 billion

Tornado outbreak in Central and Southeast states, March: $1.8 billion

Missouri and Arkansas flooding, May: $1.7 billion

California flooding, February: $1.5 billion

Widespread Midwest severe weather, June: $1.5 billion

Severe weather in Nebraska, Illinois and Iowa, June: $1.4 billion

Southern tornado outbreak, January: $1.1 billion

Southeast freeze, March: $1 billion

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen asks Cambodians to believe in government

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday asked citizens and investors to trust that the government will overcome the challenges brought about by Covid-19 and the loss of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. Speaking to reporters at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh,

  • Westerdam passenger ‘never had’ Covid-19

    The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the US citizen that allegedly tested positive in Malaysia after travelling on the Westerdam was never infected with Covid-19 in the first place. In an article published in the newspaper USA Today on Friday, CDC

  • ‘Ghost staff’ found, $1.7M returned to state coffers

    The Ministry of Civil Service said more than seven billion riel ($1.7 million) in salaries for civil servants was returned to the state last year after it discovered that the books had been cooked to pay ‘ghost officials’. This is despite claims by the Ministry of

  • Woman wanted for killing own son

    Police in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district are on the lookout for a woman who allegedly hacked her son to death on Sunday in Stung Meanchey III commune. District police chief Meng Vimeandara identified the son as Chan Sokhom, 32. “The offender can’t escape forever.

  • H5N1 also poses deadly threat, ministry warns

    The Ministry of Health’s Communicable Disease Control (CDC) department has called on citizens to excise caution over H5N1 or bird flu that is spreading in the southern province of Vietnam. In a Facebook post, the department announced that it has made a series

  • Gloom hits Siem Reap tourism

    As the Kingdom’s overall tourism sector continued to grow last year, industry insiders in Siem Reap have expressed their deep concerns, citing a sharp drop in Chinese arrivals to the province beginning late last month. Cambodia earned $4.91 billion in international tourism revenue last year,