The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season was forecasted to be a busy one, and so far it has lived up to the expectations. Halfway through the season, the number of tropical storms and hurricanes has almost equaled the average totals for an entire season. Fortunately, we have yet to experience a major disaster comparable to some of the past decades most severe storms, which brought billions of dollars of damage, death and devastation to the regions they bombarded. Here are the eight costliest hurricanes of the 2000s.
- Katrina $125 billion (2005)
Hurricane Katrina is by far the most devastating natural disaster in modern US history. The storm itself was massive: it was a category 5 with 175 mph winds in the Gulf, though it weakened to a category 3 as it made landfall enough to cause New Orleans levees to fail, flooding up to 80 percent of the city. A great American town was nearly wiped out, and in the process, 1,833 people were killed. People from across the country and world sat in shock as they viewed the now iconic images of people pleading for help from their rooftops and outside of the Superdome. Often overlooked is the fact that the Mississippi Gulf Coast was decimated by the storm surge as well. Katrina caused us to examine every aspect pertaining to how we should deal with hurricanes.
- Ike $30 billion (2008)
Hurricane Ike was the strongest and most destructive storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, which is the third costliest in history. The storm made landfall near Galveston as a strong category 2 storm with a massive storm surge, flooding the downtown area and the University of Texas Medical Branch. In Houston, some of the citys most recognizable buildings suffered damage, including Reliant Stadium and downtowns JP Morgan Chase Tower. Parts of the fourth largest city in the country went weeks without power, as the millions who evacuated returned to their homes to find extensive damage caused by wind.
- Ivan $18 billion (2004)
Before hitting the popular tourist destination of Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a category 3 storm, Hurricane Ivan at one point a category 5 storm careened through Grenada, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cuba, causing what amounted to billions of dollars in damage. Ivan proved resilient as it destroyed subdivisions in Perdido Key and a section of the Interstate 10 bridge over Escambia Bay. The Southeastern US experienced heavy rain and flooding, including record levels in Georgia.
- Charley $16 billion (2004)
Hurricane Charley snuck up on Florida residents after its sudden shift in direction. Although the storm was quick and small in size, it caused major damage to small towns along the states southwest coast, particularly Arcadia. Hardee and Charlotte Counties endured severe damage, and Central Florida wasnt spared, as trees in Orlando were toppled and millions of residents were without power.
- Rita $16 billion (2005)
Not a month after Katrina terrorized the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Rita threatened the region as it reached category 5 status. Residents of the Houston area, wary of what they had witnessed in New Orleans, heeded requests to evacuate, causing epic logjams on freeways west, northwest and north of the city. The storm made landfall along the Texas/Louisiana border as category 3 with 120 mph windspeed. The vulnerable Louisiana coastline endured more flooding and billions of dollars in damage resulted in the US, though Rita wasnt as costly as anticipated.
- Wilma $14.3 billion (2005)
Hurricane Wilma hit near the same area of Florida that had suffered through Charley a year before, causing heavy wind damage and water damage with the resulting eight-foot storm surge. More than three million customers were without power and other utilities were out of service for several weeks after the storm had passed. Prior to making US landfall as a category 3 storm, Wilma reached category 5 status and set the record as the most powerful hurricane recorded in the Atlantic Basin, meaning its barometric pressure reading was extremely low.
- Frances $11 billion (2004)
The biggest victims of Hurricane Frances economically were Floridas citrus groves, which were almost entirely wiped out after previously suffering damage from Charley. Notably, the Kennedy Space Center took a beating from wind gusts that reached 94 mph, causing more damage than any other hurricane. Additional flooding and tornadoes occurred along the east coast up to the Carolinas, ensuring the storm would have a lasting impact.
- Jeanne $8 billion (2004)
Florida wasnt spared in 2004, as Jeanne was the fourth major hurricane to affect the state in its costliest hurricane season on record. However, given the damage already done by Frances and Charley, its potential for destruction was somewhat minimized, though $8 billion in damage was caused in the areas through which it passed due in part to flash flooding.