The Decade's Worst Hurricanes

Here are the most damaging hurricanes to hit the U.S. in the past 10 years.
By Megan Baker

This week, New York City and parts of the East Coast get their first hurricane warning since Gloria in 1985. If we’ve learned anything over the past decade, it’s that low-level storms can wreak just as much havoc as a high-level one. Remember Katrina? That was a category 3. Here, the most damaging hurricanes of the past 10 years:

Ike (September 2008)
Although it was classified as a category 2 storm, Ike remains the third costliest hurricane in U.S. history after Katrina and 1992’s Andrew. Total damage: $25 billion, mostly in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Katrina (August 2005)
This category 3 hurricane is the costliest in U.S. history, with damages estimated at $81 billion. It’s also one of the deadliest, with deaths exceeding 1,800 in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Winds reached a maximum of 175 miles per hour, but most of the storm’s devastation resulted from levy failure in the low-lying city of New Orleans. Even now, six years later, the city is still recovering.

Rita (September 2005)
Hitting less than a month after Katrina, this category 3 storm prompted a massive evacuation effort of more than 3 million to prevent the tragedy Katrina effected. Still, Rita managed to cause $10 billion in damage in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

Hurricane Wilma (October 2005)
Wilma’s arrival in Florida was measured at a category 3 level, with winds reaching speeds of 185 miles per hour. The hurricane caused 5 deaths in the U.S., and more than $20 billion in damages.

Charley (August 2004)
At a category 4 classification, Charley was the strongest storm to hit the U.S. since—again—1992’s Andrew, which clocked in at category 5. In Punta Gorda, Florida, where the hurricane made landfall, winds clocked in at 112 miles per hour—before they destroyed the measuring equipment, that is. Damages amounted to $14 billion in Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Hurricane Ivan (September 2004)
Ivan hit the U.S. as a category 3 storm, sweeping through Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Deaths totaled 25 and damages $14.2 billion—$610 million of which were attributed to the value of Alabama’s devastated timber properties.