Top 10 Most Expensive Hurricanes in History | The Weather Channel (2023)

#10: Hurricane Frances (2004)

Throughout history hurricanes and tropical storms have ranked among the most costly natural disasters in the United States.

In the last 10 years, the United States has been battered by nine of the top 10 most expensive hurricanes in history with a total price tag of more than $320 billion. This includes two hurricanes over the last two years.

Our top 10 countdown begins with Hurricane Frances, which is the 10th costliest hurricane in history.

Damage from Hurricane Frances in the U.S. was estimated at roughly $9.5 billion. At the time, Frances was the third costliest U.S. hurricane. This included about $100 million in damage to facilities at Cape Canaveral.

Frances wasn't simply a coastal menace. As the remnants crept up the Appalachians, heavy rain soaked Florida to Upstate New York. Over 18" was measured near Linville Falls, N.C. Almost 16" soaked High Springs, Fla.Flooding was most serious in the southern Appalachians, as well as southeast Georgia and northern Florida.

Frances had a "twisted" side as well, spawning 103 tornadoes in six states over a four-day span. According to Severe Weather Expert, Dr. Greg Forbes, this is the third highest number of tornadoes for a U.S. landfalling tropical cyclone.

More on What Would Happen in Katrina Happened in the Year 2065?

#9: Hurricane Rita (2005)

Top 10 Most Expensive Hurricanes in History | The Weather Channel (1)

Hurricane Rita slammed into the Texas and Louisiana border as a Category 3 hurricane and caused $12 billion in damage.

Significant wind damage, storm surge flooding and inland flooding occurred in portions of the following states: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.

While Rita did take a turn to the east, sparing metro Houston and Galveston, southwest Louisiana and the Beaumont-Port Arthur areas took a direct hit. The towns of Holly Beach, Cameron, Creole, and Grand Cheniere were wiped out.

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Storm surge also flooded many parts of Lake Charles, La. and Port Arthur, Texas.

#8: Hurricane Charley (2004)

Top 10 Most Expensive Hurricanes in History | The Weather Channel (3)

Charley's legacy is its rapid intensification to Category 4 strength just before striking the southwest coast of Florida.

Wind damage was catastrophic in Charlotte County, Fla. Major wind damage occurred well inland in a narrow swath across central Florida as well. A wind gust of 105 mph was recorded as far inland as Orlando, Fla.

Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro says he'll never forget when Charley suddenly intensified. "How quickly it went from a Category 2 to a Category 4 right before landfall is a cautionary tale about preparedness."

The total cost of $15.1 billion made Charley the second most costly hurricane at the time, but now it's number eight on the list.

#7: Hurricane Irene (2011)

Top 10 Most Expensive Hurricanes in History | The Weather Channel (4)

Irene's damage was from a combination of wind damage, storm surge flooding and inland flooding from eastern North Carolina to the Northeast U.S. Flooding from rainfall was catastrophic for some locations in the Northeast.

The total cost from Hurricane Irene in 2011 was $15.8 billion. Almost half of the $15.8 billion price tag was from inland flooding and storm surge flooding.

#6: Hurricane Ivan (2004)

Top 10 Most Expensive Hurricanes in History | The Weather Channel (6)

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Just a little more than a month after Hurricane Charley ravaged the central Florida Peninsula in 2004, Hurricane Ivan made landfall near the border of southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.

Ivan produced a significant amount of wind and storm surge damage along the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coasts. From there, Ivan went on to produce wind and flood damage well inland from Georgia all the way to Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

Another legacy of Ivan was the large amount of tornadoes it spawned. The final total of 118 is a record for the most tornadoes produced by any tropical storm or hurricane in history.

The total damage cost from Ivan was $18.8 billion.

#5: Hurricane Wilma (2005)

Top 10 Most Expensive Hurricanes in History | The Weather Channel (8)

Wilma was the fifth in a line of hurricanes that made landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, but that doesn't mean its damage lagged behind the rest.

In fact, Wilma ranks as the second most costly hurricane in 2005 and the fifth most expensive in history after it hit southern portions of Florida with widespread damaging winds and some flooding in late October. According to the National Hurricane Center report, Wilma caused the largest disruption to electrical service ever experienced in Florida.


The total damage cost estimate for Wilma was $21 billion.

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Wilma also marked its spot in the meteorological history books by having the lowest pressure (882 millibars) ever recorded in a hurricane when it was a Category 5 in the northwest Caribbean.

#4: Hurricane Andrew (1992)

Andrew was a small hurricane but with extreme winds estimated to be Category 5 strength at landfall along the southeast Florida coast. After striking southern Florida, Andrew made a second landfall in south-central Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane.

The intense winds caused catastrophic damage in southern Florida, destroying or damaging approximately 125,000 homes.

Andrew caused $26.5 billion in damage, mostly in Dade County, Fla. At the time, it was the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history.

#3: Hurricane Ike (2008)

Ike was only a Category 2 hurricane at landfall along the upper Texas coast, but ranks as the third most costly hurricane on record.

How was Ike so costly even though it wasn't a major hurricane at landfall? The answer is its size.

Ike was a very large hurricane that generated a huge storm surge along portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Homes were completely wiped off their foundations on the Bolivar Peninsula.

Wind damage occurred north and eastward along the path of Ike and its remnants in portions of Arkansas, northwest Tennessee, southern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Total damage cost estimate for Ike is $29.5 billion.

#2 Hurricane Sandy (2012)

Top 10 Most Expensive Hurricanes in History | The Weather Channel (10)

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Similar to Hurricane Ike in 2008, Sandy was another very large hurricane with an expansive wind field.

The large wind field of Sandy sent a destructive storm surge into parts of coastal New Jersey and New York. A total of 650,000 houses were either damaged or destroyed by Sandy, mostly from storm surge and battering waves. In addition, 41 of the 72 direct deaths associated with Sandy in the U.S. were related to storm surge flooding.

Around 8.5 million customers in the Northeast lost power due to the winds from Sandy. Some were without power for weeks.

The preliminary damage estimate for Sandy is $65 billion.

#1: Hurricane Katrina (2005)

Top 10 Most Expensive Hurricanes in History | The Weather Channel (12)

You may have already narrowed this one down since it was not mentioned before.

In addition to being the most costly hurricane in history, Katrina is also the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history after causing an estimated $108 billion in damage.

Katrina first made landfall in south Florida as a Category 1 hurricane near Miami. Strong winds gusting between 85 and 95 mph plus heavy rains caused substantial damage and flooding.

After exiting South Florida, Katrina strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Even though Katrina had weakened to a Category 3 before landfall along the northern Gulf Coast, its large size and previous extreme intensity sent a huge storm surge into the Mississippi, Alabama and southeast Louisiana coasts.

The surge left behind catastrophic destruction along the coast of Mississippi and stressed the levees protecting New Orleans, causing them to fail. This resulted in an inundation of 80 percent of New Orleans with water depths up to 20 feet.

Farther inland, high winds and some flooding affected portions of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Georgia.

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