2017 was filled with extreme weather of an unprecedented magnitude.
Last year, the U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disasters each with losses exceeded $1 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Total losses approximate around $306 billion — a new U.S. record.
Hurricanes Maria and Irma had total damages of $90 billion and $50 billion, respectively. Wildfires on the west coast resulted in $18 billion in damages — triple the previous U.S. record. At least 362 people died and much more were injured during the course of these disasters.
Since 1980, the U.S. has sustained 219 weather and climate disasters that have exceeded $1.5 trillion in overall damages to date.
(Photo: Courtesy of NOAA)
Climate by the numbers in 2017
The average U.S. temperature in 2017 was 54.6 degrees F, making 2017 the third warmest year in 123 years of record-keeping. According to scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, the five warmest years on record for the U.S. all have occurred since 2006.
Precipitation for the year totaled 32.21 inches — 2.27 inches above the long-term average — ranking 2017 as the 20th wettest year and the fifth consecutive year with above-average precipitation. The national drought footprint (total area) began and ended with about one-quarter of the Lower 48 states in drought. The drought footprint reached a low of 4.5% in May, the smallest drought footprint in the 18-year period of the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The month of December ranked near the warmest third of the record, with an average temperature across the contiguous U.S. of 34.8 degrees F, 2.1 degrees above average. Much-above-average temperatures were observed across the Southwest with record warmth in parts of California and Arizona, while near- to below-average temperatures were observed across parts of the Great Plains, Midwest and Northeast. The month ended with record and near-record cold temperatures for many locations in the East.