- Best Days
As we look back at the memorable events of the past year, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include the weather. It was weather that seemed to dominate U.S. headlines in 2017. From coast to coast, January to December, we experienced everything from devastating hurricanes to floods to massive wildfires. The year pretty much ran the gamut of extremes, reminding us of the power of Mother Nature.
We compiled a list of the five worst weather events in the US during the past year:
The year got off to a dangerous start for those in the southeast. From January 21-23, three rounds of severe weather wreaked havoc across Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Eighty-one confirmed tornadoes touched down, resulting in 20 deaths. In fact, it was the largest outbreak on record in Georgia with 42 tornadoes confirmed in that state alone. More people were killed in this string of tornadoes than in all of 2016 (tornado deaths). The outbreak cost an estimated $1.3 billion in damage.
When it came to weather disasters, 2017 was not a good year for the residents of the Golden State. First, Northern California welcomed its wettest winter in nearly a century, which was good for the years-long drought, but the flooding that resulted destroyed much of wine country’s crops, causing millions of dollars in damage. Then a slow moving Presidents’ Day weekend storm dumped heavy precipitation, causing substantial damage from flooding and landslides. After such a long period of drought, many parts of the state were unable to handle the huge onslaught of water. Hundreds of thousands of residents, stretching from Sacramento to Los Angeles, had to be evacuated. The floods caused an estimated $1.5 billion in property and infrastructure damage and at least 5 people were killed as a direct result.
You might not think a hail storm would make headlines but this one certainly did. On May 8th a ferocious storm blew through the west metro Denver area and hammered it with golfball- and baseball-sized hail, punching holes through cars as they traveled during the busy rush hour and blowing out windows in homes.
The event ranks as the most expensive catastrophe in Colorado history, according to insurance estimates. More than 150,000 auto insurance claims and more than 50,000 homeowners insurance claims were filed. The final price tag: over $2 billion in losses.
California fell victim to another round of Mother Nature’s wrath, this time in the form of devastating wildfires. While wildfires are nothing new to the arid state, 2017 brought the most destructive fires this state has ever seen. Despite the flooding in the early part of the year (see #4), California’s landscape was still ripe for wildfire threats, a round of which flared up in October, and again in early December with the arrival of the warm, dry Santa Ana winds. The most devastating was the Thomas Fire (named for its nearby landmark, St. Thomas Aquinas College), in Ventura County, which burned approximately 440 square miles (281,893 acres), and became the 7th most destructive wildfire in California history. By December 22, the Thomas Fire had cost over $177 million to fight, and forced the evacuation of over 104,000 residents. The fire caused countless homes to burn to the ground, and caused the deaths of 1 firefighter and 1 civilian. The cause of this fire is still under investigation, and at the time of this writing, it is still not 100% contained. You can follow the daily updates of this fire here.
Of course these monster storms ranked #1 on our worst weather events list. It what is known as one of the most active and costliest hurricane seasons on record, 2017 brought us Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and gave the U.S. a record three category 4+ hurricanes that made U.S. landfall within days of each other:
While tornadoes are a common daily occurrence in many parts of the U.S., Maine averages only 1-2 twisters per year. But only July 1, a record five tornadoes ripped through the towns of Denmark, Bridgton, Otisfield, and on the state’s largest lake, Sebago, where a waterspout was spotted. Four of the tornadoes were categorized as F1 (wind speeds of 86-110 mph); the other was an F0 — winds were clocked at 72 mph. Large trees were downed and multiple reports of property damage. Read the report from the NWS here.
Did we leave anything off our list? Tell us in the comments below.
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