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U.S. billion-dollar weather disasters doubled in last decade-report

by Reuters
Wednesday, 8 January 2020 17:36 GMT

South Carolina Department of Transportation workers remove sand washed onto Spring Street in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, U.S., September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill

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Between 2010 and 2019, there were 119 disasters such as floods, hurricanes and wildfires with losses exceeding $1 billion

(Adds details on disaster costs, global report scheduled for Jan. 15)

Jan 8 (Reuters) - The number of billion-dollar climate- and weather-related disasters in the United States more than doubled in the last decade, with costs soaring above $800 billion, according to a U.S. government report released on Wednesday.

The National Centers for Environmental Information's annual climate report said last year was the second wettest on record in the contiguous United States, while average temperatures were above the 20th-century average despite being the coolest since 2014. Alaska, meanwhile, experienced its warmest year on record.

Between 2010 and 2019, there were 119 disasters such as floods, hurricanes and wildfires with losses exceeding $1 billion. That is more than double the 59 such events experienced between 2000 and 2009, the report said.

In 2019, there were 14 such events with a combined price tag of $45 billion. The events included tropical cyclones Dorian and Imelda, inland flooding and one wildfire.

Alaska's average temperature was 32.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.1 degree Celsius), 6.2 degrees F above the long-term average. Average temperatures have risen steadily in Alaska in recent years, with four of the last six years experiencing record warmth. Alaska's previous record average was set in 2016.

In Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, the temperature hit 90 degrees F (32.2 C) for the first time on record in July.

The average temperature in the contiguous United States, 52.7 degrees F (11.5 degrees C), was the lowest since 2014 but was still 0.7 degree F above the 20th-century average.

Southeastern states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia, each experienced either their warmest or second warmest years.

Annual precipitation in the contiguous United States was 34.78 inches (88.34 cm), 4.84 inches (12.29 cm) above average. The total was 0.18 inch (0.46 cm) less than the record set in 1973, the report said.

The Midwest was particularly wet, with North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan each experiencing their wettest years on record.

The National Centers for Environmental Information is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. NOAA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will release an annual report on global temperatures and climate on Jan. 15.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

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