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U.S. experienced 15 billion-dollar natural disasters in 2017, research group says

The U.S. experienced 15 individual natural disasters that cost more than $1 billion in damages in 2017, according to the research group Climate Central. What set 2017 apart was not any one individual disaster but the number of disasters. 

The billion-dollar natural disasters in 2017 included one drought event, two flooding events, one freeze event, seven severe storm events, three tropical cyclone events and one wildfire event, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. NOAA said 2017 tied 2011 as having the most billion-dollar disasters. 

The total cost of natural disasters in 2017 is estimated to be about $25 billion. The total costs from Harvey, Irene and Maria have not yet been calculated. 

2005 holds the record for the costliest year in U.S. history for natural disasters, with damages exceeding $200 billion. That year saw the costliest natural disaster on record -- Hurricane Katrina -- as well as a busy hurricane season. 

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The rise in billion-dollar disasters since 1980.

Courtesy of Climate Central

The data has been analyzed by Climate Central, a New Jersey-based group of scientists and journalists who do research about climate change. 

According to Climate Central, several of the costly natural disasters are the direct result of climate change. Droughts in the Plains and wildfires in the West are both the result of wildfires and higher evaporation rates fuel more hurricanes. 

Climate change is not directly linked to tornadoes and hailstorms, although atmosphere and higher humidity can provide more energy for these storms, Climate Central said.