The 10 Deadliest and Costliest Hurricanes in U.S. History

Which Hurricanes Have Been the Most Devastating?

July 17, 2019
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Hurricanes are a deadly force of nature. Here are the 10 deadliest and costliest hurricanes to ever hit the United States.

Blow not against the hurricane.”

The 10 Deadliest Hurricanes in U.S. History

Measured by U.S. deaths in tropical cyclones that have struck the United States (since 1851):

  1. 1900 Texas (Galveston) Category 4. 8,000–12,000 deaths.
  2. 2017 Maria (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands) Category 5. 2975 deaths.
  3. 1928 Florida (SE/Lake Okeechobee) Category 4. 2,500 deaths.
  4. 2005 Katrina (SE LA/MS) Category 3. 1,200 deaths.
  5. 1893 LA (Cheniere Caminanda) Category 4. 1,100–1,400 deaths.
  6. 1893 SC/GA (Sea Islands) Category 3. 1,000–2,000 deaths.
  7. 1881 GA/SC Category 2. 700 deaths.
  8. 1957 Audrey (SW LA / N TX) Category 4. 416 deaths.
  9. 1935 (FL Keys) Category 5. 408 deaths.
  10. 1856 LA (Last Island) Category 4. 400 deaths.

(Data from the National Hurricane Center, published in January 2018.)

The 10 Costliest Hurricanes in U.S. History

Measured in U.S. dollars, adjusted for inflation to 2017 dollars.

  1. 2005 Katrina (SE LA/MS) – $160,000,000,000
  2. 2017 Harvey (TX, LA) – $125,000,000,000
  3. 2017 Maria (PR, USVI) – $90,000,000,000
  4. 2012 Sandy (Mid-Atlantic & NE US) – $70,200,000,000
  5. 2017 Irma (FL) – $50,000,000,000
  6. 1992 Andrew (SE FL/LA) – $47,790,000,000
  7. 2008 Ike (TX, LA) – $34,800,000,000
  8. 2004 Ivan (AL, NW FL) – $27,060,000,000
  9. 2005 Wilma (S FL) – $24,320,000,000
  10. 2005 Rita (SW LA, N TX) – $23,680,000,000

(Data from the National Hurricane Center, published in January 2018.)

Some Observations

  • The deadliest hurricane to ever strike the U.S. was the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, responsible for at least 8,000 deaths (an possibly up to 12,000). A Category 4 storm, it brought sustained gusts of more than 140 mph and a storm surge of 15 feet.
  • It’s no surprise that hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas rank so highly. In general, about 39% of hurricanes that hit the United States strike the state of Florida. Also, about two-thirds of the strongest hurricanes (Category 4 or 5) make landfall on either the Florida or Texas coast.
  • Many readers ask about the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. This fairly recent hurricane ranks fourth on the “most deadly” list, with an estimated 1,200 deaths. In terms of monetary cost, however, Katrina ranks first, having caused approximately $160 billion in damage.
  • Did You Know? The names of these deadly hurricanes are retired by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). See the list of retired hurricane names.

See the Hurricane Forecasts for the current year and common hurricane questions.

Source: 

National Hurricane Center, NOAA

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