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Costliest US weather disasters of the last 40 years

  • #20. Western wildfires, California firestorm (2017)

    - Cost: $18.9 billion
    - Deaths: 54
    - Begin date: June 1, 2017
    - End date: Dec. 31, 2017

    Wildfires took place in the West between June 2017 and January 2018. In California, these fires were especially bad in October, when they destroyed 15,000 homes, businesses, and other buildings. 2017 was the state's worst wildfire year to date. Throughout all six months, wildfires burned over 9.8 million acres across California. Montana experienced 1 million acres of burning.

  • #19. Hurricane Hugo (1989)

    - Cost: $19.3 billion
    - Deaths: 86
    - Begin date: Sept. 21, 1989
    - End date: Sept. 22, 1989

    In September 1989, Category 4 Hurricane Hugo devastated North and South Carolina with storm surges of roughly 20 feet and severe wind damage. In Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city, homes lost power, businesses shut down, and life pretty much came to a halt. Crews worked for weeks after the storm to clean up the damage and debris.

  • #18. Hurricane Charley (2004)

    - Cost: $22.4 billion
    - Deaths: 35
    - Begin date: Aug. 13, 2004
    - End date: Aug. 14, 2004

    Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall in southwest Florida in August 2004, which resulted in major wind and water damage in the state, along with some damage in North and South Carolina. In Florida, this was the most devastating storm since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. In Tampa Bay, the evacuation undertaken in response to this hurricane was, at the time, the largest in the region's history.

  • #17. Hurricane Florence (2018)

    - Cost: $24.5 billion
    - Deaths: 53
    - Begin date: Sept. 13, 2018
    - End date: Sept. 16, 2018

    In September 2018, Hurricane Florence produced extreme rainfall across eastern North and South Carolina, which received up to 35.93 inches and 23.81 inches of rain, respectively. In North Carolina, the total damage from Hurricane Florence was more than the cost of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999 combined.

  • #16. Western wildfires, California firestorm (2018)

    - Cost: $24.7 billion
    - Deaths: 106
    - Begin date: June 1, 2018
    - End date: Dec. 31, 2018

    In 2018, California experienced its largest, deadliest, and most expensive wildfires on record at that time. Of the multiple fires California experienced from June to December of that year, the Camp Fire was the costliest and deadliest, destroying over 18,500 buildings. The Mendocino Complex fire was also the largest the state had ever experienced, burning over 290,692 acres.

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  • #15. Hurricane Rita (2005)

    - Cost: $25.2 billion
    - Deaths: 119
    - Begin date: Sept. 20, 2005
    - End date: Sept. 24, 2005

    When Hurricane Rita hit the Texas-Louisiana border coastal region in September 2005, it caused flooding and wind damage in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. In Houston, anxiety about Hurricane Rita caused the worst traffic jam in the city's history, a gridlock that, for some, wouldn't end for a full 24 hours.

  • #14. Hurricane Michael (2018)

    - Cost: $25.5 billion
    - Deaths: 49
    - Begin date: Oct. 10, 2018
    - End date: Oct. 11, 2018

    Hurricane Michael was a powerful Category 5 hurricane that made landfall on Mexico Beach, Florida on Oct. 10, 2018. The hurricane brought winds of 160 mph and storm surges larger than 15 feet, nearly destroying Mexico Beach and extensively damaging Panama City. In addition, Tyndall Air Force Base, located 12 miles from Panama City, suffered a direct hit from the storm, which cost billions in damages. Hurricane Michael was the first Category 5 storm to hit the United States mainland since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

  • #13. Hurricane Wilma (2005)

    - Cost: $25.8 billion
    - Deaths: 35
    - Begin date: Oct. 24, 2005
    - End date: Oct. 24, 2005

    Hurricane Wilma was a Category 3 storm that hit Southwest Florida on Oct. 24, 2005, causing damaging winds and floods across the region. Before it hit Florida, Wilma had become a Category 5 hurricane and the most-intense storm in Atlantic history.

  • #12. Hurricane Ivan (2004)

    - Cost: $28.7 billion
    - Deaths: 57
    - Begin date: Sept. 12, 2004
    - End date: Sept. 21, 2004

    Hurricane Ivan was a Category 3 storm that made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Alabama on Sept. 16, 2004, at 2:10 a.m. Ivan brought with it a storm surge, heavy winds, and flooding damage in coastal Alabama and along the Florida panhandle. There was also wind and flooding damage in other states, from Georgia and Mississippi all the way up to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The storm produced 117 tornadoes and had a lifespan of 22.5 days and a path of 5,600 nautical miles.

  • #11. Central/Eastern drought/heat wave (1980)

    - Cost: $33.3 billion
    - Deaths: 1,260
    - Begin date: June 1, 1980
    - End date: Nov. 30, 1980

    From June to November 1980, central and eastern states saw an intense heat wave and drought that damaged agriculture and other related industries and caused a total of 10,000 direct and indirect deaths. In Texas, the summer of 1980 broke or tied 29 daily heat records. The hottest days were 113 degrees on both June 26 and June 27, and the Dallas region experienced a 42-day string of 100-degree days.

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