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Hurricane-omics: A Look Into the 10 Costliest Atlantic Storms on Record

Hurricane-omics - A Look Into the 10 Costliest Atlantic Storms on Record

I write this from a friend’s apartment — my family traveled from Tampa for dryer ground in Orlando the night before last.

Hurricane Ian just smashed through Cuba, causing all of the island’s electricity to go out and causing at least two deaths. It’s now arriving in Florida.

Locals have departed or hunkered down, President Biden and Governor DeSantis have taken the maximum emergency actions to prepare, and legendary storm chaser Jim Cantore shuttles between towns on the west coast of Florida.

And what do I do? After securing my family in the safest manner possible, I am writing about my favorite subject: economics. As a self-styled econ nerd and self-taught economist, allow me to bring the dismal science to you in an interesting manner as possible.

Let’s talk about the economic impact — or damage — of the mightiest of Atlantic cyclones, hurricanes. I just listed 11 things you need to know about hurricanes here.

Now let’s talk about the 10 costliest Atlantic hurricanes of all time, from an economic perspective. Hurricane-omics, if you will.

The original US Dollar figures are listed first, and 2022 adjusted for inflation are in parentheses. All other references to the dollar amount were the cost at the time, not adjusted for inflation.

10. Michael (2018)

Storm Michael (2018)

Hurricane Michael’s total bill came out to $25.5 billion ($29.48B) in damage.

This Atlantic storm took a unique course, first tearing through the Eastern US, mainly Georgia and the Florida panhandle. Then it went into the Gulf of Mexico and affected Mexico, Cuba, and Central America.

9. Ivan (2004)

Storm Ivan (2004)

Hurricane Ivan cost $26.1 billion ($40.11B)in total damage.

The storm ripped through the Caribbean before making landfall in Alabama. While the USA took the biggest hit financially, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and Grenada each suffered over a billion dollars in damage.

8. Andrew (1992)

Storm Andrew (1992)

Hurricane Andrew’s total financial damage was $27.3 billion ($56.49B).

One of the most devastating storms on the list, Andrew is one of the few storms to hit the United States as a Category Five hurricane. It smashed through The Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana.

7. Ike (2008)

Storm Ike (2008)

Hurricane Ike’s total bill came out to $38 billion ($51.24B).

Before hitting the US, the storm severely damaged Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

6. Sandy (2012)

Storm Sandy (2012)

This storm’s total costs hit $68.7 billion ($86.87B).

Hurricane Sandy was smashed through Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas before affecting 24 US States, particularly New York and New Jersey, where hurricanes are rare.

5. Ida (2021)

Storm Ida (2021)

The most recent storm on the list, Ida cost a total of $75.25 billion ($81.07B) in reported damage.

Last year’s cyclone affected Cuba before making landfall in Louisiana and moving Northeast. It caused severe damage as far as New Jersey.

4. Irma (2017)

Storm Irma (2017)

Hurricane Irma’s bill came out to $77.16 billion ($75.25B).

It smashed both of Florida’s coasts and leveled a direct hit as a Category Five hurricane before draining itself into a tropical storm over Florida.

The storm was the costliest in history for Cuba and the Leeward Islands and the 4th biggest on record. It individually cost Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands a billion dollars while costing the U.S. a total of $50 billion.

3. Maria (2017)

Storm Maria (2017)

Maria’s bill came out to $91.6 billion ($108.49B), which is even more immense considering it never hit the continental United States.

Coming just days after Irma, Maria hit land as a Category Five and leveled a deadly 1–2 punch at Puerto Rico. The human damage of 2,975 fatalities on the island is like no other storm on this list.

The resulting human suffering was far greater because Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was badly damaged. $90 billion was the cost of damage in Puerto Rico alone.

2. Harvey (2017)

Storm Harvey (2017)

Harvey cost $125 billion (148.05B). Along with Maria and Irma, 2017 was by far the costliest hurricane season.

This hurricane is unique as it’s the only storm on this list to hit Texas directly. It went through the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico before hitting the Lone Star State as a Category Four, causing massive flooding in coastal areas.

1. Katrina (2005)

Storm Katrina (2005)

Katrina is the costliest hurricane in history to date $125 billion ($185.82B) in damage. Due to inflation, I listed this storm as the most costly, though some will list them as a tie.

After some damage in The Bahamas and Florida, the storm went back into the Gulf of Mexico, landing near New Orleans, Louisiana.

Due to its low elevation, New Orleans is surrounded on multiple sides by floodwalls. Tragically, storm surges (flooding) destroyed many of these, causing 80% of the city to be underwater, with over 1,500 reported deaths.

How much will Hurricane Ian cost Cuba and the United States? Only time will tell.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Hurricane Flood

For tips on how to stay safe in a hurricane, make sure to read this article.

I also just wrote an explainer on the different terms involved, so you understand what the news alerts mean.

Other great resources are provided on the National Hurricane Center website.

If you enjoy reading stories like these from, consider subscribing.


This content is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute trading advice. Past performance does not indicate future results. Do not invest more than you can afford to lose. The author of this article may hold assets mentioned in the piece.


Alexandre Lores is a personal finance writer from Tampa Bay, Florida, with the goal to help one million people achieve financial freedom. He has spent over five years studying markets and economics, finding Bitcoin in 2017 and never turning back. He frequently appears on TV and in online news articles and is a regular Twitter spaces host.

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