The U.S. experienced one of its most expensive and destructive years on record, according to an analysis on Wednesday from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

A year of tropical storms, extreme weather events, floods and tornadoes left a path of destruction throughout 2021 that left at least 688 Americans dead. This was simultaneously one of the deadliest as well as one of the most expensive years on record with 20 events that cost over $1 billion in damages.

NOAA attributes much of the blame for last year's devastation on climate change with rising temperatures exasperating weather conditions that worsened these events. For example, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 54.5 degrees Fahrenheit -- 2.5 degrees above the 20th-century average and ranked as the fourth-warmest year in the 127-year period of record. It continued a trend in the last decade that has seen six of the warmest years on record since 2012.

Ten states saw their warmest year on record, including Texas, Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Other states in the Northeast, West and Great Lakes all saw their top five warmest years while Alaska, the northernmost state in the nation, suffered from both an average annual temperature of 26.4 degrees, 0.4 of a degree above the long-term average and the coldest year since 2012.

While the U.S. is no stranger to extreme weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes, 2021 included some of their most active years to date. In the mid-Atlantic, there were at least 21 named storms while tornado-prone regions of the country saw one of the most active years with a total 1,376 tornadoes, including 193 in December alone.

Climate change and its contribution to natural disasters have been well-documented by experts. President Joe Biden has sought stronger measures to combat the climate crisis.

Businesses have also been concerned about the devastating potential of climate change. A survey of institutional investors showed that more than half said climate risks have financial implications for their portfolio, according to a report in March 2020 from The Review of Financial Studies.