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Costliest US weather disasters of the last 40 years

  • #10. U.S. drought/heat wave (2012)

    - Cost: $34.2 billion
    - Deaths: 123
    - Begin date: Jan. 1, 2012
    - End date: Dec. 31, 2012

    The year of 2012 was the most extensive drought to impact the United States since the 1930s, affecting more than half the country for the majority of the year. States from California and Montana to Texas, Iowa, and Georgia were all hit. The drought caused harvest losses for corn, sorghum, and soybean, among other crops. A summer heat wave also caused 123 direct deaths and an unknown number of indirect deaths.

  • #9. Hurricane Ike (2008)

    - Cost: $36.9 billion
    - Deaths: 112
    - Begin date: Sept. 12, 2008
    - End date: Sept. 14, 2008


    Hurricane Ike was a Category 2 hurricane that made landfall in Texas as the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (based on its size). It caused significant wind and flooding damage. Some trees downed during the hurricane in Galveston were eventually transformed into art by local sculptors.

  • #8. Midwest flooding (1993)

    - Cost: $37.9 billion
    - Deaths: 48
    - Begin date: June 27, 1993
    - End date: Aug. 15, 1993

    An especially-wet fall in 1992, leading to above-average soil moisture and reservoir levels in the Upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins, helped cause the Great Flood of 1993, which covered nine states and 400,000 square miles. In some locations, the flood lasted nearly 200 days. Barge traffic on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers was stopped for almost two months, and bridges were not accessible on the Mississippi River between Davenport, Iowa and St. Louis, Missouri. Overall, it cost $37.9 billion.

  • #7. U.S. drought/heat wave (1988)

    - Cost: $44.8 billion
    - Deaths: 454
    - Begin date: June 1, 1988
    - End date: Aug. 31, 1988

    The summer of 1988 saw a heat wave and drought that impacted a large portion of the United States and was responsible for between 5,000 and 10,000 indirect deaths. The drought and heat wave led to severe agricultural and related losses.

  • #6. Hurricane Andrew (1992)

    - Cost: $50.5 billion
    - Deaths: 61
    - Begin date: Aug. 23, 1992
    - End date: Aug. 27, 1992

    Hurricane Andrew was a Category 5 storm that hit Florida in August 1992 before affecting Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane. In Dade County, Florida, the storm destroyed over 125,000 homes and left at least 160,000 people homeless. Andrew was the third-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States since reliable record-keeping began. It caused winds of up to 165 mph.

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  • #5. Hurricane Irma (2017)

    - Cost: $52.5 billion
    - Deaths: 97
    - Begin date: Sept. 6, 2017
    - End date: Sept. 12, 2017

    Hurricane Irma began as a Category 5 storm and devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands before landing in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm. 25% of the buildings in the Keys were destroyed, and 65% were significantly damaged. The hurricane maintained winds of 185 mph for 37 hours and was the second-longest Category 5 storm of all Atlantic hurricanes, with Ivan as the first.

  • #4. Hurricane Sandy (2012)

    - Cost: $74.1 billion
    - Deaths: 159
    - Begin date: Oct. 30, 2012
    - End date: Oct. 31, 2012

    Hurricane Sandy caused extensive damage across multiple northeastern states, especially New York and New Jersey. The storm was so disruptive that it caused the New York Stock Exchange to close for two consecutive business days, which hadn't happened since the Great Blizzard of 1888. In New York City, the storm was responsible for the death of 44 residents and damaged over 69,000 residential units, displacing thousands of New Yorkers.

  • #3. Hurricane Maria (2017)

    - Cost: $94.5 billion
    - Deaths: 2,981
    - Begin date: Sept. 19, 2017
    - End date: Sept. 21, 2017

    Hurricane Maria was a Category 4 storm that made landfall in southeast Puerto Rico after hitting St. Croix. The storm devastated Puerto Rico's infrastructure, including its transportation, electricity, and agriculture. Rainfall of up to 37 inches also caused landslides and flooding across the island and was responsible for at least 2,981 deaths. Puerto Rico is experiencing a long and still-incomplete recovery, but due in large part to the hurricane, protests and political change have taken place over the last three years.

  • #2. Hurricane Harvey (2017)

    - Cost: $131.3 billion
    - Deaths: 89
    - Begin date: Aug. 25, 2017
    - End date: Aug. 31, 2017

    Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas. It produced historic flooding around Houston and the surrounding areas, with over 50 inches of rainfall in some places. The massive flooding this rainfall caused displaced over 30,000 people and damaged or destroyed over 200,000 homes and businesses. The flooding was especially bad due to poor urban planning and sprawl that made the Houston area vulnerable.

  • #1. Hurricane Katrina (2005)

    - Cost: $170.0 billion
    - Deaths: 1,833
    - Begin date: Aug. 25, 2005
    - End date: Aug. 30, 2005

    Unsurprisingly, 2005's Hurricane Katrina is the costliest hurricane in the history of the United States, with a $170 billion bill. The Category 3 hurricane also caused at least 1,833 deaths. New Orleans was especially devastated when its levee system failed, and residents were left to wait for rescue that never came. New Orleans still has not fully recovered.

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