The Most Expensive Natural Disasters in U.S. History

Wind, water, fire and drought have all wreaked havoc on the United States. What’s been the worst?

A flooded street after Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Cristal River, Florida, US, on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall in western Florida this hurricane season before sweeping through Georgia and the Carolinas, may be the costliest weather event of 2023 in the U.S. Preliminary estimates of the damage put it between $9.3 billion, according to UBS, and $20 billion, according to AccuWeather

The full cost of Idalia  is still to be determined — and while it may be the costliest storm of this year, it remains to be seen where it will fit in American history. Historically, hurricanes have been the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history, with cyclonic storms making up the first eight in our list. Storm surge (damage from which is not covered by homeowner’s insurance and may require flood insurance) is the main source of hurricanes' damage. 


Estimated cost and death figures are from the NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Estimated costs are adjusted for inflation.
U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (2022)., DOI: 10.25921/stkw-7w73

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David Muhlbaum
Former Senior Online Editor

In his former role as Senior Online Editor, David edited and wrote a wide range of content for With more than 20 years of experience with Kiplinger, David worked on numerous Kiplinger publications, including The Kiplinger Letter and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. He co-hosted  Your Money's Worth, Kiplinger's podcast and helped develop the Economic Forecasts feature.

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