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Costliest US weather disasters of the last 40 years

  • #80. Eastern drought/heat wave (1999)

    - Cost: $3.9 billion
    - Deaths: 502
    - Begin date: June 1, 1999
    - End date: Aug. 31, 1999

    In the summer of 1999, very high temperatures and low precipitation caused a drought and heat wave across many states in the eastern United States, such as Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The drought and heat wave caused extensive agricultural losses. By August, the governors of Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania declared drought emergencies, and eleven localities in Virginia sought federal assistance.

  • #79. California freeze (1998)

    - Cost: $4.0 billion
    - Deaths: 0
    - Begin date: Dec. 20, 1998
    - End date: Dec. 28, 1998

    In December 1998, a severe eight-day freeze caused by air from the Gulf of Alaska destroyed more than a third of California's annual citrus crop and tripled orange prices in the supermarket. The freeze caused temperatures in the high teens and low 20s and was the worst cold spell in California's Central Valley since a 10-day freeze in 1990.

  • #78. Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas tornadoes and severe weather (2010)

    - Cost: $4.0 billion
    - Deaths: 3
    - Begin date: May 10, 2010
    - End date: May 12, 2010

    A weather event with tornadoes, hail, and severe thunderstorms caused $4 billion in damage across Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. The storms caused winds of 50 to 60 mph, and there was an EF-3 tornado near the Kansas border. Oklahoma suffered the worst impact, and three people were killed.

  • #77. Western storms and flooding (1982)

    - Cost: $4.1 billion
    - Deaths: 50
    - Begin date: Dec. 13, 1982
    - End date: March 31, 1983

    From December 1982 through March 1983, severe storms and flooding in states such as Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Montana caused 50 deaths and cost $4.1 billion.

  • #76. Rockies/Midwest/East severe weather (2014)

    - Cost: $4.1 billion
    - Deaths: 0
    - Begin date: May 18, 2014
    - End date: May 23, 2014

    In May 2014, severe storms occurred across the Rockies and Midwestern and Eastern states such as Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. Colorado, Illinois, and Pennsylvania experienced the costliest damage. In Colorado, golf ball-sized hail piled up 4 inches deep 40 miles outside Denver, and 40 flights had to be diverted.

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  • #75. Gulf states storms and flooding (1982)

    - Cost: $4.2 billion
    - Deaths: 45
    - Begin date: Dec. 1, 1982
    - End date: Jan. 15, 1983

    In early December 1982, storms caused flooding to occur in the central and southern Mississippi River basin. Later that month, more storms caused severe flooding in Louisiana and moderate flooding in Mississippi. These storms and flooding combined cost $4.2 billion and killed 45 people.

  • #74. Southeast drought/heat wave (1986)

    - Cost: $4.3 billion
    - Deaths: 100
    - Begin date: June 1, 1986
    - End date: Aug. 31, 1986

    After an unusually dry winter, states across the southeastern United States, such as Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, experienced one of the most challenging periods of drought in history. In July, extremely high temperatures combined with this drought made for especially difficult conditions for people, animals, and crops. In Manning, South Carolina, for example, temperatures reached 100 degrees 23 times in July 1986.

  • #73. Florida freeze (1989)

    - Cost: $4.3 billion
    - Deaths: 10
    - Begin date: Dec. 23, 1989
    - End date: Dec. 25, 1989

    Over Christmas of 1989, temperatures dropped to the teens, freezing citrus crops and killing trees. According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, the freeze was a "turning point" in the history of Lake County because it was when many grove owners gave up on growing citrus and sold their land to developers instead. Overall, the freeze caused 10 deaths in the state and $4.3 billion in damages.

  • #72. California flooding (1995)

    - Cost: $4.3 billion
    - Deaths: 27
    - Begin date: Jan. 1, 1995
    - End date: March 31, 1995

    From January to March 1995, strong storms in California caused such destructive floods that led to declarations of federal disaster in 57 of the state's 58 counties. Waters rose to record levels, bridges collapsed, and downtowns of cities like San Jose flooded. The Sacramento River Valley was hit especially hard due to storm drainage system failures.

  • #71. Southwest/Great Plains drought (2009)

    - Cost: $4.3 billion
    - Deaths: 0
    - Begin date: Jan. 1, 2009
    - End date: Dec. 31, 2009

    In 2009, drought conditions exposed many Texas counties to more drought than they had experienced since 2000. September 2008 until September 2009 was one of the driest one-year periods to date for Texas. Overall, the drought cost the state's cattle industry over $1 billion. The drought also impacted other states, such as Oklahoma, California, and New Mexico. In total, it cost $4.3 billion.

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