Storm Damage Statistics

Quick Summary

Powerful storms can have devastating and deadly effects on communities. Every year, storms cause billions of dollars in damage, take hundreds of American lives and wreak havoc on local economies.

Storm Damage Statistics Overview

The United States endures numerous storms each year, including hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical cyclones, flooding, winter storms and other extraordinary weather events. Though different storms bring unique hazards, any major storm system can have a lasting impact on the nation.

Powerful storms may result in significant property damage and loss of lives, and take a toll on local economies. In some cases, storm damage causes devastating and irreparable harm to local American communities.

Top 5 Most Damaging Storms in 2018-2019

According to the National Centers For Environmental Information, the U.S. had 25 storm-related disasters that caused over a billion dollars in damage between 2018 and 2019.

The top five most damaging storms of 2018 and 2019 were:

Storm Date Estimated Damage (CPI-Adjusted) Deaths
Hurricane Michael October 10-11, 2018 $25.7 billion 49
Hurricane Florence September 13-16, 2018 $24.7 billion 53
Missouri River and North Central Flooding March 14-31, 2019 $10.9 billion 3
Mississippi River, Midwest and Southern Flooding March 3-July 31, 2019 $6.3 billion 4
Tropical Storm Imelda September 17-21, 2019 $5.1 billion 5

Hurricane Damage Statistics

Hurricanes also cost the United States more than one billion dollars annually, as these powerful storms continue to hit the Gulf Coast and mid-Atlantic states on a yearly basis.

Between 1986 and 2015, hurricanes caused a total of $515.4 billion in insured damages, and Louisiana, Florida, Texas and New York were the most heavily impacted.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the most costly hurricanes in U.S. history include:

  • Hurricane Katrina: $125 billion
  • Hurricane Harvey: $125 billion
  • Hurricane Sandy: $74.1 billion
  • Hurricane Irma: $50 billion
  • Hurricane Ike: $30 billion
  • Hurricane Andrew: $27 billion
  • Hurricane Ivan: $20.5 billion
  • Hurricane Wilma: $19 billion

Hurricane season is an active one, with multiple tropical storms and cyclones impacting the United States regularly. By October 2020, a total of nine Atlantic hurricanes and 15 tropical storms had formed that year, including three major hurricanes:

  • Hurricane Laura: August 20-29, 2020
  • Hurricane Teddy: September 12-27, 2020
  • Hurricane Delta: October 5-12, 2020

Based on the Saffir-Simpson scale, all three were Category 4 hurricanes, with wind speeds between 130-156 mph when they made landfall.

Hurricane winds and heavy rains can quickly destroy buildings. Even structures built to withstand high winds still endure damage, as windows, doors and roofs are particularly susceptible.

Long-lasting power outages are common after hurricanes, causing further impacts on communities and local economies.

Puerto Rico was left without power after 2017’s Hurricane Maria, with half the country still in the dark seven weeks after the devastating storm claimed over 3,000 lives.

Tornado Damage Statistics

Over a thousand tornadoes hit the United States every year, often reaping devastating damage. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that 1,520 tornadoes hit the U.S. in 2019, and in 2018, there were a total of 1,126 tornadoes. During this two-year span, 51 tornado deaths were recorded.

Most tornadoes do not claim lives, but those that do are likely to harm numerous people. In recent years, two particularly deadly U.S. tornadoes occurred:

  • On March 3, 2019, an F4 tornado in southeast Alabama took the lives of 23 people
  • In April 2014, a tornado storm system in Arkansas and Mississippi killed 35 people

The single most devastating and costliest storm involving tornadoes was nicknamed the 2011 Super Outbreak. It occurred between April 22 to 28 in the Southern, Midwestern and Northeastern states. In less than a week, 362 tornadoes killed 321 people and caused approximately $11 billion in damages.

Tornadoes take a significant economic toll, requiring billions of dollars in recovery funds. In 2019, tornadoes and thunderstorms resulted in $20.3 billion in insured losses.

Typical wind damage caused by a tornado includes broken windows, doors and damaged roofs. However, a powerful tornado can quickly level an entire house without warning.

Blizzard Damage Statistics

Many Americans embrace the winter weather with open arms but fail to prepare for deadly cold snaps and blizzards. Winter storms result in a devastating loss of life, severe property damage and lasting economic impacts.

Blizzard Fatalities

In 2019, 73 people lost their lives from winter storms, making blizzards one of the deadliest natural catastrophes of the year.

The National Weather Service’s statistics share similar results. According to the NWS, the 30-year average for weather fatalities is:

  • Winter: 35 deaths
  • Cold: 27 deaths
  • Combined: 62 deaths

Property Damage from Blizzards

Blizzards can damage personal and public property, as freezing temperature and high winds test the stability of homes, buildings and other structures. Nearby trees and vegetation are also disrupted and may fall.

In 2019 alone, winter storms caused $2.1 billion worth of insured damage in the United States.

Additional damage is caused by power outages, a life-threatening situation for people with mobility issues, including seniors, who don’t have back-up heating. Automobile accidents also increase during blizzards and winter weather, as people feel overconfident in their ability to drive in the storm and lose control of their vehicles.

Economic Impact

Local economies also feel the direct impact of blizzard damage, as business is temporarily interrupted. Many people can’t work, participate in recreational activities or support local businesses during major winter storm events.

Hail Damage Statistics

Hail causes between $8 and $14 billion in insured damages every year, with over 10 million properties affected by severe storms with hailstones larger than one inch in diameter. A single severe hailstorm can cause more than one billion dollars worth of damage. Some states are more likely to be impacted by hail than others.

In 2019, the top five states for hail insurance claims were:

  • Texas: 192,988 claims
  • Colorado: 69,742 claims
  • Nebraska: 56,897 claims
  • Kansas: 50,737 claims
  • Minnesota: 49,973 claims

Hail damage is most likely to affect roofs and skylights. One insurance company reported that it’s common for homeowners to be unaware of hail damage to their homes, as people rarely inspect their roofs. Approximately 30% of their hail claims were inaccurately dated, and about 15% of claims were for damage that occurred more than a year before the claim date.

Hail also routinely damages other types of personal property, including vehicles, livestock and farming crops. Property Claim Services, the authority on insured property losses in the United States, estimates that hail damage caused $29.7 billion in material damage over 20 years.

Flood Damage Statistics

Floods are the most common environmental disaster, and every state across the country is impacted by flooding. According to FEMA, 99 percent of U.S. counties were negatively affected by a flooding event at least once between 1996 and 2019.

Floods are caused by heavy rainfalls, excessive snow or ice melt, or storm surges from tsunamis, hurricanes or typhoons. Regardless of the cause, most people are not adequately prepared to withstand flooding or subsequent damage.

Flood Insurance

Although flooding is often unexpected and unpredictable, many homeowners are financially unprotected against flood damage. Flood insurance policies are separate from typical homeowners’ insurance, and, in 2019, annual premiums cost an average of $700.

Although many people may find additional flood insurance expensive, the price is small compared to the cost of flooding:

  • In 2019, Americans received an average claim payout of $52,000 from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program
  • In 2017, insurance companies paid out more than $13 billion to repair water damaged properties

Flood damage repair costs are significant because flooding causes rapid damage to a home, worsening if ignored. After a flood, buildings need to be thoroughly dried and cleaned to minimize water damage, recover important belongings and prevent mold growth.

Improper flood cleanup can lead to extensive property damage and deadly health problems.

Find Help Repairing Storm Damage

Storm damage can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to recover alone. Experienced storm damage professionals are available to help you repair your home after a storm so that you can return to your everyday life as soon as possible.

Storm repair experts can also help you prevent future storm damage to your home. Preventative maintenance can help reduce or eliminate the damage caused by many types of natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, hail and winter storms.

Author:Water Damage Advisor
Water Damage Advisor

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