The Most Destructive U.S. Hurricanes of All Time

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Hurricanes have been menacing the U.S. as long as anyone can remember, but the monetary damages the storms have caused has increased in recent years, as this TIME photo collection shows. The devastation from Hurricane Sandy — later dubbed a “Superstorm” — rang in at $65 billion, leaving 72 people dead and more than 6 million homeless.

Does that mean hurricanes are getting more powerful or more common? Not necessarily.  While many atmospheric scientists believe that climate change may strengthen tropical cyclones—higher temperatures at the ocean tend to feed hurricanes—the power of the storm isn’t the only factor in the extent of the damage. Far more important, at least for now, is the increase in the number of people and the value of the property in coastal areas that are perennially vulnerable to major hurricanes. Hurricane Katrina was so expensive not just because it was powerful, but because it landed directly on top of a major American city—and one that was clearly unprepared for a storm of that magnitude.

The more people and property we put in harm’s way, the greater thee damage any storm will cause. If climate change really does give hurricanes an extra kick—and if we do nothing to slow global warming or prepare for the effects—damage will be incalculably greater.

MORE PHOTOS:
Hurricane Sandy’s Historic Wrath
Tropical Storm Isaac follows in the footsteps of Hurricane Katrina

More Photography from Time

58 comments
trainmaster2007
trainmaster2007

how about camille  ??? what about galveston hurricane ??? both of the many past hurricanes that showed the true seriousness of a hurricane. the fury they had shown such as oil tankers were beached inland as well structured building looking like EF5 tornado swept through. so whats this billions ? yeah its just money more and more over the years things cost more to replace, it tells very little about a storms fury. death toll only tells that people weren't prepared sadly, but it does happen and people get killed. storm surge, the great lakes gets bigger ones and they aren't caused by hurricanes. katrina was nothing different than the other storms a cat 3 (my opinion) they didn't have the fury that andrew had but still it was so super bad, most of katrinas damage could have been prevented, bush cut storm surge levys people were not prepared and the rescue operation was super slow. now sandy (i still laugh at people) was not a well formed hurricane (observation by veteran meteorologists says) get mixed with a low pressure big deal, so what about hurricane floyd ? or doesn't he fall in any where ? just to bring it up how about looking at typhoon tip back in 1979 still the largest ever recorded. personally most of these new hurricanes are overly exaggerated just to make historical events that already been made years ago and taking credit for it now and the news team finds a way to make a bigger dollar... that is pretty sad.

jenc
jenc

I am still effected by the aftermath of Hurricane Jeanne and Hurricane Frances and wracked with debt. FEMA was no help to anyone of moderate income.  We owned at the TIARA,  the only condo in singer island to have significant damage. The building condemned....then rebuilt.  But we gave up on it with the HUGE condo fees and sold it.  Now the insurer is paying out to all of those who KEPT their units for fraud.  SOL again. 

Devy
Devy

Wow 2005 was a crazy year...

georgesweeney
georgesweeney

What about the 1938 hurricane, before they were named? As I recall, 500+ killed, millions of trees down, all over New England.

oneUSA
oneUSA

Obama is a disgrace.......this is what one  some post ...he is a disgrace  for trying to get US  Americans healh insurance so we live longer no..no that bad....  ok where was i he is a disgrace for investing  in education so US Americans can go to college ...no no that Bad if we  do that we may become number one again  in some thing ....scary stuff ....where was i..  he is a Disgrace for implementing consumer protection laws  so US Americans  who is the  consumers don't get scam by banks  are  compeny who have a lot of resources to throw at the lil guy's  ...no no we don't  need that ..just let the banks  look out for  people.. yea .. .where was i he is a Disgrace   for believeing  female's  should have  the same   freedom as any one in 2012            .any way geting sleepy  to much to write ....vote swiss Romney   and son  

jnik
jnik

What about Galveston 1900 and the 1933  Long Island Express?

Shannon Bennett
Shannon Bennett

Wow. So tired of hearing all about how Katrina hit New Orleans....it DID NOT HIT NEW ORLEANS, it hit in MISSISSIPPI!  Alabama, Mississippi and many other cities in Louisiana were damaged well beyond New Orleans! The difference is that in these places the residence got up, dusted off their shoes and got to work on their own and worked their tails off until they could get help they needed. They didn't sit back and complain about not having help...they did something. For that they got pushed out of the spotlight and so much help they needed was passed to the people who New Orleans and not to other states that really needed it as well.

On the other hand their were WONDERFUL volunteers who did remember us and come help and donate. For that we are and will ALWAYS be thankful! You guys were the best and thanks for remember us non-New Orlean's!!!

Scott Boyle
Scott Boyle

Again, another article talking about Katrina and no mention of Mississippi. new Orleans flooded because of broken levees, people died because they did not heed the warnings and evacuate. Tragic yes, but Katrina did the most direct damage to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. It literally erased everything from the coast line to almost one mile inland. There are still slabs up and down Hwy 90 today. 

Loves_to_Read
Loves_to_Read

List should have been very different IMO:

  Costliest U.S. Atlantic hurricanes

Total estimated property damage, adjusted for wealth normalization[32]

Rank Hurricane Season Cost (2005 USD)

1 "Miami" 1926 $157 billion

2 "Galveston" 1900 $99.4 billion

3 Katrina 2005 $81.0 billion

4 "Galveston" 1915 $68.0 billion

5 Andrew 1992 $55.8 billion

6 "New England" 1938 $39.2 billion

7 "Cuba–Florida" 1944 $38.7 billion

8 "Okeechobee" 1928 $33.6 billion

9 Donna 1960 $26.8 billion

10 Camille 1969 $21.2 billion

Main article: List of costliest Atlantic hurricanes

Loves_to_Read
Loves_to_Read

This list should be very different IMO:

         Costliest U.S. Atlantic hurricanes

Total estimated property damage, adjusted for wealth normalization[32]

Rank Hurricane Season Cost (2005 USD)

1 "Miami" 1926 $157 billion

2 "Galveston" 1900 $99.4 billion

3 Katrina 2005 $81.0 billion

4 "Galveston" 1915 $68.0 billion

5 Andrew 1992 $55.8 billion

6 "New England" 1938 $39.2 billion

7 "Cuba–Florida" 1944 $38.7 billion

8 "Okeechobee" 1928 $33.6 billion

9 Donna 1960 $26.8 billion

10 Camille 1969 $21.2 billion

Main article: List of costliest Atlantic hurricanes

Yashwanth Dhakshana
Yashwanth Dhakshana

just stay the Hell away from Florida and you won't have to worry about hurricanes.

middleright
middleright

but nothing compares to the destruction that Barack Obama has caused to our economy and national phsychy

Edwin Guevara Ramos
Edwin Guevara Ramos

Katrina didn't kill 2000+ people, George W's ineptitude and uncaring towards the lower classes combined with people's ignorance killed 2000+ people.

clb45para
clb45para

What about the 1928 Hurricane that went across Lake Okeechobee.  The death toll for that is still unknown,  and what about the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane?  It destroyed the Railroad to the Keys, and killed 200 WWI vets who were trying to ride tht train out.  Looks like they only wanted hurricanes that they could try and blame on "global warming."

EncryptedOne
EncryptedOne

3rd Posting

This article is very poorly written. The person who wrote this should have thought about visiting NOAA website before even start to write this.

For all of you who want the facts on this, head over to NOAA website and search for top ten hurricanes.

They (admins) have deleted my post twice. This is my 3rd time posting this

EncryptedOne
EncryptedOne

POSTING AGAIN!

This article is very poorly written. The person who wrote this should have thought about visiting NOAA website before even start to write this.

For all of you who want the facts on this, head over to NOAA website

http://stateofthecoast.noaa.go...

EncryptedOne
EncryptedOne

LOL! They removed my post on how poorly this article was written

EncryptedOne
EncryptedOne

This article is very poorly written. The person who wrote this should have thought about visiting NOAA website before even starting to write this.

For all of you who want the facts on this, head over to NOAA website

http://stateofthecoast.noaa.go...

nicholaspaschalis
nicholaspaschalis

So our insurance rates in Canada go up every time you sustain damage due to a hurricane? Nice.

Tom_Kalmaku
Tom_Kalmaku

I'm glad so many people mentioned the great hurricane of 1900 in Galveston.  If you are going to entitle an article "The Most Destructive Hurricanes of All Time" you should at least do a modicum of research.  Human lives are worth more than property losses.

Tom Rourke
Tom Rourke

Um, hello?! Hurricane of 1938 should be on this list. It killed over 600 people, destroyed over 57,000 buildings, and is to date the most destructive storm to hit the Northeast. It literally changed the landscape of much of the Northeast coast...shame not to see it here, I wish more people knew about it.

Jan Groff
Jan Groff

Where is the 1900 storm that killed well over 6,000 in Galveston.?Is that not enough destruction for CNN? It is the worst natural disaster in the nation's history. If dollars are the only that counts, the list is still out of order.

mel0828
mel0828

You fail to mention Hurricane Iniki, which struck the island of Kauai and the west coast of Oahu on 9/11/2997!  This hurricane thoroughly destroyed the island of Kauai...but no mention of it here in this article!  I lived on the island, and they are usually forgotten for some reason to be considered part of the U.S!

Mark Sierens
Mark Sierens

Someone should inform the Author that Hurricane Andrew laid waste to Homestead and last time I checked that was not most of Florida. Broward and Palm Beach were mostly untouched by Andrew. Miami, the Keys, and Homestead had the massive damage.

mountainsurf
mountainsurf

Noticed how CNN pulled the "help haiti" article.....  What did they not get the bleeding heart responses they wanted?  Some body get Jean a tampon.. 

Along_The_Way
Along_The_Way

This article needs to be pulled and rewritten to include 1900 and 1928 Hurricanes, at the very least  These were FAR worse than Katrina. Neither are mentioned. Poorly done.

Along_The_Way
Along_The_Way

This was not the most distructive. Good grief!!! Why are people so quick to reference it? Because it was the one where people REFUSED to leave and then were so blasted sorry because they were STUCK? Here is one of the worst -- and it's not even listed. Shame on CNN for not even referencing it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1...

notayot
notayot

Governor "Skelator" want's the GOVERNMENT  and TAX PAYERS to step in and help? Why doesn't he just ask his private business pals to help stuff sandbags and pay for the damage?  

Hmmmm?

James Gary Stephens
James Gary Stephens

Interesting pattern of weather events!

If I recall....last time Republicans tried to do this (4 years ago)

they faced a hurricane, then they got hit with Katrina under Bush's

watch, and now this..another hurricane. The truth is, the Universe shall

never be held back and yes God/the Universe is the truth and cares for

us people and the overall well being of all people, not just the one

percent.

That is why the RNC is facing this hurricane again. See it just as

bad luck or just other thing, but if your spiritually enlightened (one

who is not brainwashed by the agenda's of society to keep the masses of

people as followers while the 1% continues to rule) you will see the

truth of this and understand exactly what is taking place as all things

in life and the Universe happen for a reason and purpose and nothing is

unaccounted for.

Obama cares for the people, all people and you can feel it in his

spirit. Has it been hard for him as the first non-traditional look as a

president to create change, yes it has....because the powers that be who

control the overall direction of our economy who allowed the rich to

have a 'take all" approach so that they could get everything while they

can (i.e. the stock market crash amp; the Wall Street corruption) want

it to continue and keep the doors open and block any and all policies to

help the middle and poor class to allow this to continue so that

eventually yes, their is no more middle class at all, but only a rich

and a poor class so that the median (middle class) path of success and

wealth no longer exists.

Such a agenda would make it harder to even reach or

continue that path to becoming wealthy and successful while only a few

will then hold that status in life along with all the wealth and greed

to themselves and to their own families. This includes cutting education

so that people can remain blind and uneducated and mentally defenceless.

But regardless, God/the Universe can NEVER be denied.

Thank GOD I'm conscious and mentally and spiritually free.

I wish the best for every one of you and your families who mean well

and care about each other and who want to see a more evolved and

elevated society within that of what God/the Universe wants. We are all human and we are special and beautiful in the eyes of the Creator.Cheers,

david d
david d

Of all the most destructive hurricanes that hit our country you leave out the "1900 storm" Galveston, "The labor Day hurricane" in florida?   Horrible research, and Katrina at the number one spot?  Absolutely ridiculous.

HOUTX15
HOUTX15

1900 storm, Galveston, TX...

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Well the Hurricane was OBVIOUSLY Bush's fault, so it gets top billing.

Scott Boyle
Scott Boyle

Actually flooding from broke levees killed people who did not evacuate New Orleans. Katrina killed people in Mississippi and destroyed several towns and cities. Your ignorance and political bias killed any valid point you could possibly make on a message board.

Aldin1
Aldin1

 They need to reword the headline as monetary costs.  If they listed deadliest, it would include Galveston and others not on this list.

mountainsurf
mountainsurf

But the problem is you can not blame the 1900 storm on Bush......

Jenni Simonis
Jenni Simonis

By most destructive, they tend to mean in dollars. Even had the people all left, the dollar damage would have still been done.

And yes, I am unhappy they left out the 1900 Galveston storm.  I guess if you didn't grow up in that area you tend to forget that one since it didn't have a name.

Mike Gambino
Mike Gambino

Simply put, you are a dolt.  It's a tropical storm; soon to be hurricane.  They happen every year in the area, regardless of whether the republicans or democrats have a convention.  I don't know what you're on, but I think it's time for the next dose.

Jenni Simonis
Jenni Simonis

Katrina tends to be #1 because it cost the most dollar damage, which is what they mean when they say most destructive. When they mean lives, they say deadliest. 

I was surprised to see Ike at #3. I knew it caused a lot of damage, but didn't realize the final numbers put it that high. I know my family's still trying to recover from it and Galveston isn't fully done, either.

Melissa Hite Seager
Melissa Hite Seager

I was SO surprised not to see this one on the list...

Storm Facts:• Height of storm surge: 15.7 feet (remember that in 1900 the highest point on the island was only 9 feet above sea level)• Estimated fatalities: 6,000 to 8,000 dead in Galveston alone. The 1900 Storm is still considered the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.• Estimated wind speeds: 130 to 140 miles an hour. Winds that high at landfall would make the 1900 Storm a Category 4.• Estimated damage: $20 million, which would be more than $700 million in today's dollars.

Jenni Simonis
Jenni Simonis

I was going to post the same thing. I am really surprised it did not make the list.

Along_The_Way
Along_The_Way

Exactly, HOUTX15.  I had just posted about it..

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

You can if you're Obama.  Reality isn't something he's particularly constrained by.  Wasn't he the point man on the Bin Laden Raid?  Just in front of Lt. Bissonnette?  You know the one who took the first shot?  

longhorn10
longhorn10

In response to your previous comments:Who set up all the terrible deregulations that made Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac explode in fire? It was definitely not Obama. You're completely ignorant if you cannot connect the current economic crisis to policies implemented during the Bush administration. Go read a book.

longhorn10
longhorn10

In response to your previous comments:Who set up all the terrible deregulations that made Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac explode in fire? It was definitely not Obama. You're completely too ignorant if you cannot connect the current economic crisis to policies implemented during the Bush administration. Go read a book.

James Gary Stephens
James Gary Stephens

 @facebook-746059753:disqus

@Along_The_Way:disqus

 Mike Gambino,

Well regardless of whatever you are saying, it's ok that you try to degrade me as a "dolt" probably because your either a republican (sad), or because you hate Obama (racist/birther supporter), or because you naive

(Naivety (or naïvety, naïveté, etc.), is the state of being naive—having or showing a lack of experience, understanding or sophistication ) - Source: Wikipedia.com

and don't believe in a creator or even strike down the possibility that all things in the Universe happens for a reason and a purpose, or that you are not enlighted (spiritually educated). But it's till pretty interesting how mother nature if you want to call it that selected such a day or number of days to allow this hurricane to happen right in the middle of the RNC.

But in all, thanks for throwing out your negative energy and defining who you are as a character of hate, resentment, negativity, and degrade, even when someone shows a bit of respect to God for all things that are created naturally and that happen in life.

That's the difference between you and I. Oh by the way,....everyone knows this is hurricane season, your not saying nothing new, that was never the subject of my comment.

At any rate, sorry to have offended you if what I said somehow, some way hit home.

Hopefully you can eliminate the negative energy in your life and learn to not be destructive but more productive, even in your feedback to others of whom you don't necessarily agree with. Your response was not even counter productive and if anything, nobody learned nothing my friend from your reply.

Learn to love and appreciate instead of accumulating hate Mike and I hope that you one day get a more closer relationship with the Creator of all things that we know and don't know.

btw, may we send our prayers and positive energy to all the innocent

people and families who may be hurt or suffer from this storm and wish

them the best during this what might be a difficult time.

I still stand by my comments.

Cheers,

Jan Groff
Jan Groff

 Ike was swept off the media pages at the time because of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Aldin1
Aldin1

That damage estimate is why it didn't make the list.  This article lists the costliest storms.  #15 did $7.7 Billion in damage.  As deadly as Galveston 1900 was, it didn't destroy as much monetary property.

chibidw
chibidw

I don't know about all of that, but I do know that you still can't blame the 1900 storm on Bush.

mountainsurf
mountainsurf

I can not understand how you Obama supporters show your face in public.  You should be embarresed.  Obama is a disgrace.

mountainsurf
mountainsurf

Yes, the subprime mortage crisis that was caused my Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac giving a bunch of welfare babies hundred thousand dollars homes.  Its hard to pay your mortage when you work part time at Mc Ds.   

   Remeber, you can blame Bush all you want but the Dems held the house and the senate.   And you never heard Bush cry about how those evil Dems wont do things his way.


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