Weather disasters cost $344 billion in 2017, the most expensive year ever - Macleans.ca

Weather disasters cost $344 billion in 2017, the most expensive year ever

A new report from a reinsurance company tallies the total global economic cost of last year’s many disasters, and these photos capture the devastation

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From wildfires to mudslides, 2017 was a tough year to keep up on all the natural disasters across the globe. The United States and the Caribbean were hit hard by multiple hurricanes within the span of a month. Mexico grappled with two major earthquakes a mere week apart. China suffered major flooding problems while large parts of Europe endured serious drought.

If you put all of 2017’s natural disasters together, economically speaking, it was the second-costliest year of all-time, according to a new report from the reinsurance company Aon Benfield, as the global economic loss exceeded US$353 billion. If you count weather disasters alone, the total cost exceeded $344 billion, the most expensive year in history.

Where was all the damage done? Here are a few of the costliest natural disasters of 2017: 

One month, three hurricanes

A man rides his bicycle through a damaged road in Toa Alta, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2017 following the passage of Hurricane Maria. (Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images)

Between late August and the end of September, three separate hurricanes wreaked havoc on the United States, the Caribbean Islands or both. Hurricane’s Harvey, Maria and Irma were the three costliest natural disasters of 2017 with an total estimated economic cost of US$220 billion, accounting 62 per cent of all global economic damages from weather disasters.

MORE: The wild world of extreme weather

The costliest of the three, economically speaking, was Hurricane Harvey and the estimated US$100 billion in economic loss to America. The most destructive in terms of lives lost, however, was Hurricane Maria, which killed hundreds of people in the Caribbean. 

Too much water in China

Rising water level causes flood at Rongshui Miao Autonomous County on July 2, 2017 in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China. Continues rain raised the water level of Rong River 5.4 meters higher than the warning line, and left Rongshui county flooded on July 2. (VCG/Getty Images)

Rising water level causes flood at Rongshui Miao Autonomous County on July 2, 2017 in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China. Continues rain raised the water level of Rong River 5.4 meters higher than the warning line, and left Rongshui county flooded on July 2. (VCG/Getty Images)

Massive floods in China over the summer—mostly along the Yangtze River basin—resulted in the costliest natural disaster outside of North America last year, with an estimated US$7.5 billion in economic losses on top of 116 deaths. A typhoon that struck China and Hong Kong later in August led to another 22 deaths and US$3.5 billion in economic losses.

Too little water in southern Europe

Picture shows the cracked riverbed due to drought in the Guadalteba reservoir, in Los Campillos, on August 9, 2017. (Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)

Picture shows the cracked riverbed due to drought in the Guadalteba reservoir, in Los Campillos, on August 9, 2017. (Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)

From the summer and throughout the fall, a prolonged drought throughout Portugal, Italy and Spain caused $6.6 billion worth of damages. The United States also had its drought problems during the same time period, mostly in the Midwest and the Rockies, where drought conditions caused more than $2.5 billion worth of damages to the agriculture sector.

Wildfires in wine country

Firefighters walk to the fire line at the Lilac fire in Bonsall, California on December 7, 2017. (Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images)

Last October, the most destructive wildfire in the state of California’s history killed 43 people and cost the stat’s economy about $13 billion as flames tore through the famous Napa Valley wine region.

MORE: Stunning photos show devastation caused by the California blazes

Earthquakes in Mexico

Rescuers race to save people believed to be still alive inside a collapsed office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City, as night falls Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, three days after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Hope mixed with fear Friday in Mexico City, where families huddled under tarps and donated blankets, awaiting word of their loved ones trapped in rubble. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Rescuers race to save people believed to be still alive inside a collapsed office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City, as night falls Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, three days after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Hope mixed with fear Friday in Mexico City, where families huddled under tarps and donated blankets, awaiting word of their loved ones trapped in rubble. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake in central Mexico on September 19th killed 370 people and caused more than $4.5 billion in damage as buildings collapsed in Mexico City. The destruction came about a week after an 8.2 magnitude quake struck offshore in Mexico’s Chiapas region, killing nearly 100 and causing another $1.3 billion in damages. 

MORE: Photos show the devastation from the Mexico quake

The deadliest of all

Men wait beside empty graves for the coffins of mudslide victims on August 17, 2017 at Waterloo cemetery near Freetown, Sierra Leone. (Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images)

In dollar terms, the mudslides in Sierra Leone last August hit the country’s economy to the sum of $30 million. But the cost in human life was the most horrific of all natural disasters in 2017. In the coastal African nation at least 1,141 people were killed when a hillside on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Freetown, collapsed following days of torrential rain.

WATCH: Drone Video Shows Sierra Leone Mudslide

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