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Thursday, February 2, 2017

U.S. Weather and Climate 2016

15 $1 Billion-Plus Disasters

2016: a year of $billion dollar climate disasters

2016 was the second-warmest year on record in the U.S., according to NOAA’s latest annual national weather and climate report. The average nationwide temperature came in at 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit – 2.9 degrees warmer than the long-term average.

It also was the 20th consecutive year of above-average annual temperature. Long-term average temperatures were higher than the norm in all 50 states, with Alaska warming more than any other, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) highlights.


In terms of weather and climate, 2016 was also notable in that the U.S. experienced the second highest annual total of weather and climate-related disasters. 

Losses resulting from 15 each totaled more than $1 billion while claiming 138 lives.

The U.S. suffered through the following weather/climate-related disasters in 2016, according to NOAA:
  • 1 drought (affected multiple areas);
  • 1 wildfire (affected multiple areas);
  • 4 inland floods;
  • 8 severe storms; and
  • 1 hurricane (Matthew).

Offering a longer term perspective, NOAA notes that the U.S. has experienced more than 200 weather and climate disasters since 1980, the overall damages from which exceed $1.1 trillion.

More in the way of weather extremes was evident in terms of precipitation. Nationwide, precipitation totaled 31.70 inches, making 2016 the 24th wettest year on record. Rainfall and other forms of precipitation varied widely across the U.S., however.

The number of inland flooding events, for example, was more than double the annual record-high. The national drought footprint widened from about 18 percent in January to about 23 percent by the end of the year.

Overall, the average area of drought came in just below 19 percent, however; the smallest since 2010, according to a NOAA news release.

NOAA’s 2016 climate research report was released as President-elect Donald Trump prepares for his inauguration. 

The science-based results are unambiguous and should only serve to strengthen doubts regarding the wisdom of Trump’s promises to wipe all federal climate research funding from federal budgets.

Further information from NOAA’s 2016 national weather/climate report is available online on the NCEI website.


*Images credit: NOAA

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