US-NEWS-WEA-MIDWEST-RAIN-KC

Flood waters surround a house near Craig, Mo., on March 21, after a levee breached. (Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/TNS)

The United States had 14 major weather disasters last year, with a toll of at least 44 dead and a price tag of $45 billion, according to federal officials.

The biggest disasters of 2019 include eight severe storms, mainly in the South and Midwest, three big inland flooding events, two tropical cyclones that made landfall, and the wildfires in California and Alaska.

"The extreme weather with the most widespread impact was the historically persistent and destructive U.S. flooding across more than 15 states. The combined cost of just the Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi River basin flooding ($20 billion) was almost half of the U.S. cost total in 2019," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Last year was the second-wettest year on record for the United States, NOAA said.

The contiguous United States saw almost 35 inches of precipitation in 2019, almost 5 inches above average, the National Centers for Environmental Information reported. Last year was just 0.18 inches short of the record set in 1973, according to federal data.

Some climate data did set new records for the year. Alaska saw its hottest year on record in 2019, climate scientists said.

"Georgia and North Carolina also saw their hottest year on record, while Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin each had their wettest year ever recorded," according to NOAA.

"During the 2010s, the nation saw a trend of an increasing number of billion-dollar inland flooding events. Even after adjusting for inflation, the U.S. experienced more than twice the number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters during the 2010s (119) as compared with the 2000s (59)," NOAA said in its annual report.

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