The figures for 2017’s global temperatures aren’t out yet, but data from earlier months indicate it will involve a small drop after two years of record-setting heat. NOAA, however, has run the numbers on 2017’s impact on the US, finding it to be the third warmest on record and associated with lots of extreme weather events. Amazingly, NOAA’s brief report on 2017’s climate managed to mention all of this without once mentioning climate change.
A changing climate, however, is implicit in the very first paragraph. 2017, it notes, is the 21st consecutive year with above-average temperatures in the US. It ranks third on the all-time heat list, coming in at 1.45 degrees Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average. The US’ five warmest years on record, NOAA notes, have all occurred after 2006. It was also the third consecutive year in a row that every single state experienced above-average temperatures. For five states, 2017 was the warmest year on record. All of which indicates a major trend in the US’ temperatures.
Although the temperatures didn’t set a new record, the cost of weather events in 2017 did. The US saw 16 weather and climate disasters that each cost more than $1 billion, with total costs rising above $300 billion. That’s nearly $100 billion more than the next closest year (2005), which featured Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, and Rita. Last year’s trifecta featured Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma at total costs of $125 billion, $90 billion, and $50 billion, respectively. All three placed in the top five costliest disasters of all time in the US. These disasters also killed 362 people directly.