The contiguous U.S. had its third-warmest year on record in 2017 and sustained a record number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The average temperature of 54.6 degrees was 2.6 degrees above the 20th century average. Only 2012 (55.3 degrees) and 2016 (54.9 degrees) were warmer, according a preliminary report from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
The agency reported 16 disasters in which damages exceeded $1 billion. The year tied 2011 for most billion-dollar disasters. Losses are adjusted for inflation and reflect insured and uninsured damages.
NOAA is scheduled to release a final 2017 weather and climate report Friday. Records go back to 1895.
In its preliminary report, NOAA reported that the average temperature was above normal in the U.S. for the 21st consecutive year. Every state was warmer than average.
The year was the 20th wettest on record.
California had its third-warmest year. The average temperature of 60.3 degrees was 2.9 degrees above the 20th century average.
The year was the state’s 23rd wettest. A wet winter ended a long-term drought, but led to vegetation that dried out and fueled fires, according to NOAA. The preliminary report did not distinguish between blazes with natural and human causes.
Wildfires in California and elsewhere in the West caused a record-setting $18 billion in damages. The total tripled the previous record, according to NOAA.
Oregon had its 11th warmest and 28th wettest year on record. The average temperature of 48.1 degrees was 1.6 degrees above normal.
Washington saw its 41st warmest and 27th wettest year. The average temperature of 46.8 degrees topped the norm by 0.7 degrees.
In Idaho, the year was the 12th warmest and 12th wettest on record. The average temperature was 1.7 degrees higher than usual.
Losses from the 16 billion-dollar disasters totaled $306 billion, also a record, according to NOAA. The previous record for damage was $215 billion in 2005, the year of Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita.
The biggest disaster last year was Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf Coast. Damage totaled $125 billion, Hurricanes Maria and Irma combined to cause losses totaling $140 billion, according to NOAA.
A drought in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota caused severe damage to crops.