How many hurricanes have hit America?


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Hurricane Ian hit the West Florida coast close to Fort Myers, causing widespread destruction, flooding and power outages. Upon making landfall at offshore island Cayo Costa, Ian was classified as a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, exhibiting wind speeds of up to 150 miles per hours. A storm surge in the area reached a peak of 12 feet while a maximum of two million people were out of power in the state Sept. 28.


Infographic: The Strength of Hurricanes Making Landfall in the U.S. | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

According to the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, only 32 hurricanes have made landfall as a category 4 storm or higher in the continental U.S. since record began in 1851. Category 5 starts at a wind speed of 157 miles per hour, making Ian a hurricane at the upper threshold of category 4 and the fourth-strongest to ever hit Florida together with Hurricane Charly in 2004 (also 150 mph).


The three stronger storm that have hit Florida were all classified as category 5 – Hurricane Michael in 2018, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the destructive Labor Day hurricane of 1935, which claimed an estimated 400 lives when it slammed the Florida Keys. Considering all of the continental U.S., Ian was the fifth-strongest to ever hit, albeit in an eight-way tie, according to Fox Weather.


On Sept. 29, the storm is still making its way across the state but was downgraded to a category 1 storm Sept. 28 night and finally, a tropical storm as of 5 a.m. local time on Sept. 29.


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The 15 most expensive U.S. natural disasters since 1980


When a natural disaster comes our way, we can feel powerless to its effects. And those effects don’t just hurt our hometowns, but our pockets as well. With a record-breaking hurricane season expected this year, concerns about potential damages are in full swing.

The question is, how much do these individual disasters cost? Thanks to data from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), we can easily see just how expensive they can get. Using data from the NCEI, we’ve identified 15 of the costliest natural disasters to hit America since 1980.




Cost: $21.8 billion
Deaths: 35
When it hit: August 2004
States affected: Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina
Details: Southwest Florida and the Carolinas were hit with a storm surge and powerful winds from this Category 4 hurricane.




Cost: $24.4 billion
Deaths: 119
When it hit: September 2005
States affected: Landed in Louisiana and Texas, also affected Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas
Details: The coasts of Louisiana and Texas saw the entry of this Category 3 hurricane, while the storm surge and wind caused flooding in several other states in the South.




Cost: $25.1 billion
Deaths: 35
When it hit: October 2005
States affected: Florida
Details: Winds and flooding from this Category 3 hurricane mostly affected southeastern Florida.




Cost: $27.9 billion
Deaths: 57
When it hit: September 2004
States affected: Landed in Alabama and also affected Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia
Details: The gulf coast of Alabama bore the brunt of this Category 3 hurricane, whose wind and flooding also affected a great many other states along the East Coast.


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Cost: $32.4 billion
Deaths: 1,260
When it hit: Summer through Fall of 1980
States affected: Central and Eastern United States
Details: The agriculture industry also took a hit from the drought of 1980, as did residents of the U.S. This drought directly and indirectly led to 10,000 deaths from heat stress.


Cost: $33.3 billion
Deaths: 123
When it hit: Much of 2012
States affected: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming
Details: According to NCEI, “the 2012 drought is the most extensive drought to affect the U.S. since the 1930s.” This drought, which affected more than half of the U.S. for more than half of the year, led to “harvest failure” for crops like corn, soybeans, and more.


Cost: $35.7 billion
Deaths: 112
When it hit: September 2008
States affected: Landed in Texas but also affected Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee
Details: This Category 2 hurricane led to “the largest (in size) Atlantic hurricane on record.” Besides the damage to homes and businesses, damage to oil platforms, gasoline storage tanks, and more led to shortages of gasoline along the southeastern states.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


Cost: $36.9 billion
Deaths: 48
When it hit: Summer of 1993
States affected: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
Details: Rain and thunderstorms in central U.S. in 1993 led to what the NCEI calls, “the most costly non-tropical, inland flood event to affect the United States on record.”


Cost: $43.4 billion
Deaths: 454
When it hit: Summer of 1988
States affected: According to Chicago’s WGN9, “At one point, 45 percent of the Lower 48 was in a state of extreme drought and 11 states declared all of their counties ‘disaster areas.’”
Details: The exact number of deaths from drought conditions in 1988 may have come in at 454, but it’s estimated that heat stress from the drought directly and indirectly took the lives of 5,000 people.


Cost: $49.1 billion

Deaths: 61
When it hit: August 1992
States affected: Florida, Louisiana
Details: Florida took the brunt of this Category 5 hurricane, as some 160,000 residents of Dade County alone lost their homes.




Cost: $51 billion

Deaths: 97

When it hit: September 2017
States affected: Florida, South Carolina and the islands of St. John, and St. Thomas
Details: According to NCEI, this Category 4 hurricane destroyed or damaged 90 percent of the buildings in the Florida keys after “devastating” U.S. Virgin Islands St. John and St. Thomas.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Cost: $72.2 billion

Deaths: 159
When it hit: October 2012
States affected: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia
Details: This hurricane wasn’t just a hurricane, but it met with a Nor’Easter and was so severe that even the New York Stock Exchange had to close for two days — something that hasn’t happened since 1888.




Cost: $91.8 billion (and counting)

Deaths: 65
When it hit: September 2017
Areas affected: Mainly Puerto Rico, but also St. Croix
Details: Data on this Category 4 hurricane (including the deaths caused by it) is still being collected. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico has sustained so much damage that the standard of living has still not returned to normal.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Cost: $127.5 billion
Deaths: 89
When it hit: August 2017
States affected: Texas
Details: Seven days of rain met with flooding in this Category 4 hurricane that caused 30,000 people to become displaced and more than 200,000 homes and businesses to be damaged.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Cost: $165 billion
Deaths: 1,833
When it hit: August 2005
States Affected: Mainly Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, but also Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee
Details: Known for broken levees, political fallout, and many in the city of New Orleans becoming homeless, Hurricane Katrina, which was a Category 3 hurricane, tops this list of most expensive natural disasters in America since 1980.

Afraid of what might happen to your personal finances if a disaster strikes your hometown? Read here to learn what happens to your credit after a natural disaster

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Featured Image Credit: Karl Spencer.