Now, it is still early in 2019, but there have not been many significant weather events so far. However, the cost of disasters rack up every year.

The total of all $241 billion disasters from 1980 to 2018 was $1.6 trillion according to NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Major disasters had been racking up price tags with human and economic loss, and this list showed how much damage weather was capable of causing.

Three most expensive events were selected from each of these categories: drought, flooding, freeze, severe storms, tropical cyclones, winter storms and wildfires. Consider that all of costs were adjusted for 2018 inflation, and all of information are from NCEI. (B- billion)


  1. 1988 Drought/ Heatwave- $43.6 billion

    Summertime, most of U.S. affected, huge loss in agriculture and similar industries, ~5000 direct/ indirect heat-related deaths

  2. 2012 Drought/ Heatwave- $33.3 billion

    Most of U.S. affected, agriculture loss and harvest failures of mainly soybeans, corn and sorghum, 123 direct heat-related deaths, indirect deaths unknown

  3. 1980 Central, Eastern Drought/ Heatwave- $32.5 billion

    Summer-fall, Mainly eastern two-third of U.S., extensive agricultural losses, ~10,000 direct and indirect heat-related deaths


  1. 1993 Midwest Flooding- $37.1 billion

    Summertime, most expensive non-tropical, inland flood, persistent heavy rain/ thunderstorms, river stations broke new records, extensive damage to economy

  2. 2008 Midwest Flooding- $11.9 billion

    Summertime, widespread heavy rain, huge agricultural loss, extensive property damages

  3. 2016 Louisiana Flooding- $10.6 billion

    August, 20-30 inches of rainfall in few days, 1 in 500 year event, 50,000+ homes and 20,000+ businesses destroyed


  1. 1990 California Freeze- $6.7 billion

    December, Central and Southern San Joaquin Valley, agricultural loss, several days below freezing

  2. 1983 Cold Wave- $5.2 billion

    December, cost primarily from damages to citrus crops in north and central Florida, 100+ deaths from cold in U.S.

  3. 1989 Florida Freeze- $4.2 billion

    December, damages to citrus crops in North and Central Florida

Severe Storms

  1. 2011 Super Outbreak- $11.7 billion

    April 25-28 (peak on April 27), SE/ Ohio Valley/ Midwest, 343 tornadoes, high cost from tornadoes hitting metropolitan areas, EF-4 tornado tore through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, 321 deaths in total

  2. 2011 Midwest- SE Tornado Outbreak – $10.4 billion

    May 22-27, ~180 tornadoes, total of 177 deaths, high cost and 160 deaths from Joplin, MO EF-5 tornado

  3. 1995 Southern Plains Severe Weather – $9.2 billion

    May 5-7, some cost attributed from tornadoes and hail, high cost from flooding especially around Dallas and New Orleans

Tropical Cyclones

  1. 2005 Hurricane Katrina- $165.0 billion

    August 25-30, most expensive weather-related disaster overall, States impacted- FL, LA, MS, AL, GA, TN, KY, OH and IN, 1st landfall in FL as Cat 1, 2nd landfall LA-MS coastline as Cat 3, extensive damages from flooding/ storm surge/ high winds, levee failure made impact worse, 1,800+ deaths

  2. 2017 Hurricane Harvey- $127.5 billion

    August 25-31, made landfall as Cat 4, high cost from slow movements and heavy rainfall, broke records for rainfall, millions of people received at least 30 inches of rainfall, Houston, TX hardest hit, 89 deaths

  3. 2017 Hurricane Maria- $91.8 billion

    September 19-21, Puerto Rico, widespread devastation to island, infrastructure had to be rebuilt, up to 37 inches of rainfall, extensive flooding and landslides, ~3,000 deaths


  1. 2018 California/ Western Fires- $24.0 billion

    June-December, Camp Fire- costliest and deadliest (destroyed 18,500 buildings), Medincino Complex- record largest fire in CA, Other notable fires- Carr and Woolsey, total of 8.7 million acres burnt, 106 total deaths

  2. 2017 California/ Western Fires- $18.4 billion

    June-December, 15,000+ buildings destroyed by a wildfire, other notable fires- Tubbs, Atlas, Nuns and Redwood Valley, total of 9.8 million acres burnt, 54 total deaths

  3. 1991 Oakland Firestorm- $6.2 billion

    October, most expensive single wildfire in U.S., Oakland in CA, 3,000+ homes destroyed, 25 deaths

Winter Storms

  1. 1993 “Storm of the Century”- $9.8 billion

    March 11-14, U.S. Eastern Seaboard, 2-4 feet of snow accompanied by hurricane-force winds, over 10 million households lost power, Florida tornadoes, 270 deaths

  2. 1994 SE Ice Storm-  $5.2 billion

    Feb. 8-13, major ice storm, huge extent of damage, 9 deaths

  3. 1996 Mid-Atlantic/ NE Blizzard and Flood- $4.9 billion

    Jan. 1-4 feet of snow, combined rainfall and snow melt resulted in severe flooding, 187 deaths


I am a trained storm spotter and I spent years studying meteorology in my free times.  Those blogs reflect my opinions on weather-related topics with some light humor and commentaries.