The National Hurricane Center defines a hurricane as a tropical cyclone in which winds reach a sustained speed of at least 74 mph or more. The term "hurricane" is used to describe such tropical cyclones that occur in the Northern Hemisphere east of the International Dateline to the Greenwich Meridian, while the term "typhoon" describes such storms that occur in the Pacific, north of the Equator and west of the International Dateline. Using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, MoneyGeek found that an average of two hurricanes made landfall per year in the U.S. between 2010 and 2022.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which has five categories, describes the strength of hurricanes. The higher the category, the more powerful and devastating the storm. The strongest hurricane to make landfall on U.S. shores was Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida in September 2022. Hurricane Ian alone resulted in more than $50 billion worth of insured losses, but looking back at the last four decades highlights the extent of economic damages from similar weather events. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) recorded 60 billion-dollar hurricanes from 1980 to May 2023. Those storms resulted in nearly 7,000 deaths and a total loss of $1.35 trillion.
From 2010 to 2022, an average of two hurricanes made landfall per year in the U.S.
The hurricanes resulting in the most fatalities (since 2000) were Hurricane Maria (2,982 deaths), Hurricane Katrina (1,833 deaths), Hurricane Sandy (159 deaths), Hurricane Ian (156 deaths), Hurricane Harvey (at least 103 deaths) and Hurricane Ida (87 deaths).
Hurricanes often come with storm surge, storm tides, inland flooding, heavy rainfall and lack of access to basic necessities, making determining an exact count of its casualties challenging.
Among various weather phenomena, hurricanes result in the most economic damage, reaching $1.34 trillion from 1980 to 2022.
The three hurricanes that caused the most economic damage (in 2023 dollars) are Hurricane Katrina ($191.3 billion), Hurricane Harvey ($152.5 billion) and Hurricane Ian ($114 billion).
Sixty billion-dollar hurricane disasters were recorded from 1980 to 2022 — an average of 1.4 per year.
US Hurricane Frequency (2010–2022)
The Office for Coastal Management found that hurricanes, among the various catastrophes in the U.S., lead to the most deaths and damage. Between 2010 and 2022, an average of 18 hurricanes form annually. However, only two typically make landfall per year.
More hurricanes form during hurricane season, although some also form outside this period. Hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin runs from June 1 to November 30, with the first hurricanes forming sometime in early to mid-August. The season begins earlier in the eastern Pacific, with the first hurricanes usually happening around mid-June.
Despite the low average of hurricanes making landfall, the graph shows how per-year numbers have changed. While records show that most years only saw two occurrences, some had less — 2010, 2013 and 2015 had none. But it's also worth noting that some years exceed the average — for example, 2017 had three, while 2020 had six.
States Most Hit by Hurricanes (2010–2022)
Hurricanes hit various states, but some areas are significantly more prone than others. Based on the NOAA's Hurricane Research Division, Florida had the most hurricane landfalls between 2010 and 2022. The Sunshine State experienced hurricanes eight times in 12 years. Louisiana comes in second, with seven hurricanes, while Texas and North Carolina come in third, with four each. Knowing if you live in a high-risk state may help you prepare better, such as ensuring your home has protection against hurricane damage.
Hurricane Fatalities Over Time
After a hurricane, loss of life is common, although not all hurricanes leave fatalities in their wake. However, just from 2020 to 2022, the National Centers for Environmental Information recorded around 372 deaths from 14 hurricanes. That averages to about 124 fatalities per year.
Several billion-dollar hurricane events have resulted in large numbers of deaths in the last few years. Among these were Hurricane Maria (2017) with an estimated 2,982 deaths, Hurricane Sandy (2012) with 159 deaths, Hurricane Harvey (2017), with at least 103, Hurricane Ida (2019), with 87. And more recently, Hurricane Ian which hit Florida from September 28 to 30, 2022, leaving 156 dead. Of course, the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina’s death count of 1,833 cannot be overlooked despite happening back in 2005.
It's crucial to note that hurricane statistics on fatalities are estimates. This weather phenomenon often causes other disasters, such as floods, wind damage and lost power. It also limits people's access to food and medicine, which may contribute to fatality numbers.
The NCEI found 46 billion-dollar hurricane events from 1980 to 2019, averaging just over one occurrence annually. However, those 46 events resulted in 6,518 deaths.
The number of deaths resulting from each storm changed significantly over the years. From 1980 to 1989 and 1990 to 1999, 19 billion-dollar hurricanes occurred, each causing less than 300 deaths. However, numbers significantly increased in the next two decades.
Fatalities skyrocketed to 2,443 between 2000 and 2009, with Hurricane Katrina contributing around 57%. You can observe the same trend from 2010 to 2019. With only 12 billion-dollar hurricanes, deaths per incident increased by 46%, reaching 3,567. Hurricane Maria of 2017 contributed the most, with 2,982 deaths in Puerto Rico, while Hurricane Sandy resulted in 159 fatalities in several northeastern states.
As always, facts about hurricane deaths remain as estimates. Many factors affect these, such as wind damage, floods, lost power and restricted access to resources.
The Economic Impact of US Hurricanes
Death isn't the only consequence of hurricanes. They also create significant financial impact — although homeowners insurance may protect your home from hurricane damage.
The economic impact of hurricanes has continuously increased in the last four decades. However, the jump was most significant between 1990 to 1999 and 2000 to 2009. Losses in the latter decade were almost 2.5 times higher than the previous one, reaching $415 billion. Figures continued rising in the next decade, ending with $511 billion. From 2020 to 2022, losses already exceed $250 billion, despite only covering three years.
The hurricanes causing the most financial losses per decade were as follows:
- 2000 to 2009: Hurricane Katrina, $192.5 billion
- 2010 to 2019: Hurricane Harvey, $152.5 billion
- 2020 to 2022: Hurricane Ian, $114 billion
Hurricanes contribute over half of the total losses from natural disasters, reaching $1.093 trillion. Severe storms and droughts were a far second and third at $309.9 billion and $295 billion, respectively.
Costliest US Hurricanes
All hurricanes affect the economy. However, the financial impact of some are significantly higher than others. The table below details the ten costliest hurricanes since 1980. It shows damages in adjusted and unadjusted figures.
Unadjusted Cost (In Billions)
2023 CPI-Adjusted Cost (In Billions)
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
The primary tool to determine the strength of a hurricane is the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. It ranks the weather phenomenon based on its sustained wind speed and estimated potential property damage. However, it does not consider other hazards caused by the hurricane, such as the forming of tornadoes, storm surges or floods.
A hurricane can fall into one of five categories. The table below details these and what you can expect from each.
Shallowly rooted trees may topple over, and large branches may snap. Power outages due
Winds may cause extensive damage, including shallow-rooted trees being uprooted and
Expect devastating damage — homes may lose their roof decking. Winds are strong enough
Damage can be catastrophic, with homes losing exterior walls and roofing structures. Wind
157 mph or higher
Winds are strong enough to destroy houses entirely. These cause walls to collapse and whole
Strongest Hurricanes in US History
Exploring facts about hurricanes won't be complete without looking into which were the strongest in U.S. history. The graph below presents the top ten hurricanes with the highest recorded wind speeds.
US Hurricane Statistics FAQ
There's no lack of hurricane statistics available. MoneyGeek included some commonly asked questions to provide additional information about this costly weather phenomenon.
Expert Insights on Hurricane Statistics
MoneyGeek reached out to experts from various industries and asked them for insights about the value of hurricane statistics to the average American homeowner. Their responses may provide additional information regarding this extensive topic.
- How does knowing about hurricane statistics help the average American in their daily life?
- What factors should you consider if you live in an area more likely to be hit by hurricanes?
- What advice can you give homeowners to help them bounce back from hurricane damage?
Public Adjuster and Director of Marketing, Altieri Insurance Consultants
Vice President of Homeowners Claims at Plymouth Rock Assurance
CEO, Bramlett Residential
As hurricane statistics show, your finances may take a hit when one happens. And they aren’t the only natural disasters in the U.S. Here are some resources providing more information about how you can better prepare for these events, financially or otherwise.
- The State With the Most Hurricane Risk May Surprise You: The risk hurricanes pose varies between states. MoneyGeek details which states are more likely to suffer losses due to this natural disaster.
- Does Renters Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage? What kind of protection does a renters insurance policy offer? MoneyGeek provides information about this (and more).
- Wildfires by the Numbers: Hurricanes aren’t the only natural disasters in the U.S. Read more about wildfires, the economic damage they’ve caused and where they’re most likely to occur.
- Tornadoes in the U.S. by the Numbers: Tornadoes may form during a hurricane, but they’re natural disasters in their own right as well. Learn more about tornado statistics in the U.S.
- Financial Preparedness and Recovery From a Natural Disaster: You may experience a lot of loss (financial and otherwise) after a natural disaster. MoneyGeek provides information about how you can prepare emergency funds and what to do after disaster strikes.
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- National Centers for Environmental Information. "Events 2000 to 2009." Accessed May 21, 2023.
- National Centers for Environmental Information. "Events 2010 to 2019." Accessed May 21, 2023.
- National Centers for Environmental Information. "Summary Stats for 1980 to 2019." Accessed May 21, 2023.
- National Centers for Environmental Information. "Summary Stats for 2022." Accessed May 21, 2023.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Research Division. "Continental United States Hurricane Impact/Landfalls 1851-2022." Accessed May 21, 2023.
- Office for Coastal Management. "Hurricane Costs." Accessed May 21, 2023.
- National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center. "Glossary of NHC Terms." Accessed June 28, 2023.