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U.S. spends record $306 billion on weather, climate disasters in 2017

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In a year marked by deadly hurricanes, catastrophic floods, devastating wildfires and drought, the United States spent a record $308 billion cleaning up. That number shatters the previous record of $215 billion set in 2005, reported Cleveland.com (US).

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 16 weather and climate disasters had losses exceeding $1 billion: one drought, two floods, one freeze, eight severe storms, three tropical cyclones, and one wildfire. Overall, these events resulted in the deaths of 362 people and had significant economic effects, reports NOAA.

Damage from Hurricane Harvey was at the top of the list, with a $125 billion price tag for the extreme rainfall producing historic flooding across Houston and surrounding areas.

Hurricane Maria was the second-costliest in 2017 with $90 billion in damages. According to NOAA's summary, Maria's high winds caused widespread devastation to Puerto Rico's transportation, agriculture, communication and energy infrastructure. Extreme rainfall up to 37 inches caused widespread flooding and mudslides across the island. The interruption to commerce and standard living conditions will continue, as much of Puerto Rico's infrastructure is rebuilt.

Hurricane Irma racked up $50 billion in damages, landing it as the third-costliest weather and climate disaster of the year. The Florida Keys were impacted heavily, with 25 percent of buildings destroyed and 65 percent significantly damaged, according to the report. Severe wind and storm surge damage also occurred along the coasts of Florida and South Carolina. Jacksonville, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina received near-historic levels of storm surge causing significant coastal flooding.

For the full list of the 16 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters of 2017, check out NOAA's report.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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