Increased population along the coastlines, higher priced housing, hotels, businesses, and an increasing number of watercraft, have added to recent hurricane damage costs. So, while hurricanes may not actually becoming stronger over the last century, they are getting more expensive. In fact, six of the costliest hurricanes have happened in the last ten years.
There is a strong argument for the fact, that if inflation were factored in, many storms in the 19th century may have been equally as expensive.
1.Katrina heads the list of most expensive storms in the U.S. This mega storm that devastated the southern coast of the U.S. and New Orleans, had an estimated cost of anywhere from $80 to over $200 billion dollars. The amount of rainfall, storm surge and intense flooding contributed a great deal to the overall cost. While it wasn’t the strongest hurricane to be recorded, coming in at category 3, its location made it the costliest.
2. Before Katrina, everyone talked about Hurricane Andrew. This 1992 storm was estimated to have caused over $26 billion in damages. Hitting the cities of Homestead, Florida City, and part of Miami, Florida, as well as the Louisiana coastline, it held its title as costliest hurricane up until 2005. It is one of the few hurricanes in recent history to reach a category 5 status.
3. Hurricane Wilma, at category 3, was another storm that hit in 2005, and cost over $20 billion. It damaged property and crops along the southern Florida coast, and spawned tornadoes that did further damage.
4. Hurricane Ike in 2008 was a category 2 hurricane that produced over $18 billion in damages which made landfall near Galveston, Texas.
5. Hurricane Charley in 2004 was a category 4 hurricane, costing over $15 billion and was the strongest hurricane to hit southwestern Florida since 1960.
6. Hurricane Ivan also in 2004, was a category 3, costing over $14 billion. This hurricane, the 10th most intensive hurricane to be recorded in the Atlantic, his Gulf Shores, Alabama, and then continued across Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Before it came ashore it had become a category 5, but decreased somewhat as it approached land.
Regardless of the actual strength of the hurricane, they are costly, and much of the actual expense stems from a combination of factors. Location, population, strength, rainfall, storm surge, and even the time of day that the storm makes landfall, can determine the overall cost.