Jul 17, 2017

It's been a stormy start to 2017 in the U.S., tying the 2nd-most natural disasters on record

United States
by
Doyle Rice
,
USA TODAY
Photo: Sarah A. Miller, AP
Photo: Sarah A. Miller, AP

Dozens of savage hailstorms and tornadoes wreaked havoc across the U.S. so far this year, causing billions of dollars of damage and leading to the second-most disaster-laden season on record.

So far in 2017, the U.S. has endured 49 separate weather, climate and flood disasters, according to data from Munich Re, a global reinsurance firm.

That's tied with 2009 as the second-highest January-June number on record. Only 2012, with 59 events, had more.

Munich Re data goes back to 1980.

...

The high number of severe thunderstorms in the U.S., especially from January to March, was likely influenced by abnormally warm water in the eastern Pacific Ocean off the northwest coast of South America.  This warm Pacific ocean water affects weather patterns in the U.S. and around the world.

This so-called "coastal El Niño" — instead of the more common central Pacific El Niño — was a "real unusual event," Bove said.

...

As for a connection to global warming, "there are now many indications that certain events — such as persistent weather systems or storms bringing torrential rain and hail — are more likely to occur in certain regions as a result of climate change," Höppe said earlier this year.