WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2018–2017 will be remembered as a year of weather extremes for the United States.
Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, fires and freezes made headlines across the nation.
The Gulf Coast states even saw snow in early December, though snowfall for this area was less than half an inch, according to the National Weather Service in Mobile.
Recovery from the ravages of three major Atlantic hurricanes making landfall in the United States and an extreme and ongoing wildfire season in the West is expected to continue well into the new year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
January to December
The average U.S. temperature in 2017 was 54.6 degrees Fahrenheit—2.6 degrees above average—making 2017 the third warmest year in 123 years of record-keeping, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
In fact, the five warmest years on record for the United States all have occurred since 2006.
Last year was also the 21st consecutive year that the annual average temperature exceeded the average.
For the third consecutive year, every state except Hawaii experienced above-average annual temperatures.
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.
Billion-dollar disasters in 2017
Last year, the United States experienced 16 weather and climate disasters each with losses exceeding $1 billion, totaling approximately $306 billion—a new record.
Far more tragic was the human toll. At least 362 people died and many more were injured during the course of the disasters that included:
1 drought (affected multiple areas)
1 wildfire (affected multiple areas)
3 major hurricanes (Harvey, Irma and Maria)
8 severe storms
The biggest newsmakers include the western wildfires that caused damages tallying $18 billion—triple the previous U.S. record.
Losses from Hurricane Harvey exceeded $125 billion, which ranked second only to Hurricane Katrina, the costliest storm in the 38-year period of record.
Hurricanes Maria and Irma had total damages of $90 billion and $50 billion, respectively.
Hurricane Maria now ranks as third costliest weather and climate disaster on record for the nation, with Irma coming in close behind as fifth costliest.
NOAA News Release