Apr 6, 2018

Weatherwise, it's already been a disastrous start to the year in the U.S.

United States
by
Doyle Rice
,
USA TODAY
A woman walks along Lemoine Ave near the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J. on March 13, 2018. Photo: Tariq Zehaw, NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK
A woman walks along Lemoine Ave near the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J. on March 13, 2018. Photo: Tariq Zehaw, NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK

Weatherwise, it's already been a disastrous start to the year in the U.S., even before the tornado season ramps up and long before any direct hits from hurricanes.

In just the first three months of year, the U.S. has endured three separate weather disasters that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Friday.

The events included a severe storm outbreak in the Southeast in March and two winter storms in the central and eastern U.S. in January and March.

At $1.8 billion in damages, the costliest event so far was the nor'easter that walloped the Northeast on March 1-3, killing 9 people. The damage from the storm was due to high winds, heavy snow and coastal erosion, NOAA said.

A winter storm that hit the central and eastern U.S. in early January caused $1 billion in damages and killed 22 people. 

The severe storm outbreak in mid-March, which killed 3, brought more than 20 tornadoes across Alabama and Georgia and also widespread hail damage from Texas to Florida. 

The average number of billion-dollar disasters in the U.S., based on data from 1980 to 2017, is six.  2017 had a whopping 16 separate disasters, which tied 2011 for the most ever.

"More notable than the high frequency of these events was the cumulative cost, which exceeded $300 billion in 2017 — a new U.S. annual record," NOAA said. 

...

So far, through March, the average U.S. temperature for 2018 was 36.8 degrees, which is 1.6 degrees above average, placing it among the warmest third of the climate record.