Speed Reads

By the numbers

If 2017 feels unusually disastrous, that's because it is

If it feels like 2017 has had more large-scale natural disasters than most years, that's because it has. This year has seen no less than 15 natural disasters that individually cost at least $1 billion in damage in the United States, the National Centers for Environmental Information reports.

The only year to date to clock more billion-dollar disasters was 2011, which totaled 16 such disasters. With two and a half months to go, 2017 could well match or break that record.

The $1-billion-or-more category is a broad one. Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey are expected to cost $70 billion, $70.5 billion, and $81.5 billion, respectively, counting economic losses. The catastrophic wildfires currently tearing through California's wine country are also predicted to cost upwards of $70 billion including economic loss.