2017 costliest year ever for weather, climate disasters: WMO

United Nations: Weather and climate disasters cost countries about USD 320 billion last year with major monsoon floods in the Indian subcontinent and severe droughts in parts of East Africa contributing to making 2017 the most expensive year on record.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in its State of Climate 2017 report said that the North Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest ever for the US and eradicated decades of development gains in small islands in the Caribbean, such as Dominica.

According to the report, Major monsoon floods in the Indian subcontinent and severe droughts across East Africa also contributed to 2017 being the most expensive year on record for severe weather and climate events.

It said weather and climate-related events cost countries some USD 320 billion, making 2017 the costliest year on record.

“Excess precipitation in late March and early April 2017 triggered floods in north-eastern agricultural areas of Bangladesh. The monsoon season in South Asia brought the worst flooding in the region for years. Between June and August 2017, flooding in Nepal, Bangladesh and northern India affected millions of people and caused death and displacement across the three countries, the report said.

The report noted that the two most significant cyclones of the year in the North Indian Ocean were Cyclone Mora in late May, and Cyclone Ockhi in early December, both of which caused substantial casualties.

The major impact of both cyclones was severe flooding and landslides associated with their respective precursor lows. Sri Lanka was badly affected by both cyclones, whilst Ockhi also had major impacts in southern India, including a great number of fishermen going missing at sea.

“Many parts of the Indian subcontinent were affected by flooding during the monsoon season between June and September, despite overall seasonal rainfall being near average over the region, the report added.

The most serious flooding occurred in mid-August, after extremely heavy rainfall over a region centred on eastern Nepal, northern Bangladesh and adjacent areas of northern and north-eastern India.

Across the period as a whole, more than 1,200 deaths were reported in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, while more than 40 million people were affected.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that in Bangladesh alone more than 13,000 cases of waterborne diseases and respiratory infections were reported over three weeks in August, while extensive damage was reported to public health facilities in Nepal, the report added. PTI

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