US hits record for cost of weather disasters

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January 09, 2018
Highways around downtown Houston were empty as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflowed from the bayous around the city last year. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

WASHINGTON (AP):

With three strong hurricanes, wildfires, hail, flooding, tornadoes and drought, the US tallied a record high bill last year for weather disasters, $306 billion.

The US had 16 disasters last year with damage exceeding a billion dollars, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Monday.

That ties 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 US 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.