Nightly News   |  March 20, 2014

Record-Breaking Winter: Economy Takes $55 Billion Hit

Winter broke both records and budgets, with cities battling potholes, and businesses absorbing costly damages.

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>>> back in this country, some hard evidence of a hard-hit drought in the west. tonight, new stats show it now covering a staggering 99.8% of the state of california . this of course raises even more concerns about the threat of wildfires as temperatures now begin to climb in the months ahead. even though another storm is on the way next week winter is now officially over. but long after the snow melts, many people across this country will be paying the price for it. we get more tonight from nbc's kevin tibbles.

>> reporter: long, cold and costly, the winter of 2014 broke records and budgets. call it frozenonics, a $55 billion hit to the economy. we decided to hit the road to see just how tough and costly this winter has been. a christmas ice storm devastated east lansing , michigan, and sent a tree crashing into this man's house, repairs? $30,000.

>> it will be over three or four months before we get back on track.

>> reporter: and that all takes a toll on his young family. what has been the hardest part for you.

>> not having any floors with a toddler who wants to put her face on everything.

>> reporter: 5.5 in damage to homes and infrastructure. and cities will battle the scourge of potholes for months, more than 30,000 alone in toledo, ohio, no wonder they're calling it holy toledo .

>> we have many potholes.

>> reporter: this family has been making asphalt for four generations.

>> we've never been open this early before.

>> reporter: in chicago it snowed again today. after 80 inches of snow in chicago this winter and 28 degrees below zero locals feel like they have been digging out forever.

>> i think it will stay winter at least for another month. that is what it feels like today.

>> reporter: but just to make sure the boys of summer won't have to wait, industrial-sized hair dryers at white sox park , no matter how cold it is, hope like a baseball field springs eternal. kevin tibbles, toledo.