Weather Disasters in the U.S. Made 2017 Most Costly on Record

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According to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2017 had the dubious distinction of being the most expensive year on record for natural disasters.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as the devastating wildfires that burned thousands of acres in California all helped contribute to the $306 billion dollar price tag for the 16 separate events NOAA tracked. Most of the damage resulted from the hurricanes that relentlessly slammed the Texas, Florida and Louisana Coast. Puerto Rico was hit particularly bad, and many residents are still without power, more than 100 days removed from the storm. 

"2017 was a historic year for billion-dollar weather and climate disasters," Adam Smith, an economist with NOAA said during a media call with reporters. 

Hurricane Harvey, which devastated large parts of Houston through extreme flooding, caused more than $125 billion in damages, making it the year's most expensive disaster. Hurricane Maria came in second after it created a humanitarian crisis in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico and elsewhere, causing $90 billion in damages. The storms were also blamed for 251 combined deaths, the report found. 

Wildfires in California, including the Thomas Fire (which scorched 273,000 acres, making it the largest in California history) cost the U.S. another $18 billion and dozens of lives. 

Other weather events tracked by NOAA included tornadoes, droughts, flooding and other severe weather events. 

The last time natural disasters caused this much mayhem in the U.S. was 2005, when Hurricane Katrina caused $215 billion in damages. 

Photo: Getty Images

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