Hurricane Ian made landfall on Wednesday in southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm, making it one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S.
It has caused streets to flood and smashed trees along the coast, knocking out power for more than one million people as it slowly started to crawl across the state.
Meteorologists do expect Ian to downgrade to a Category 1 storm Wednesday night and into Thursday, but it’s still likely to leave a trail of destruction.
Yet there have been worse storms — based on wind speed, fatality rates, and costs — in the U.S.
In terms of wind speed, an unnamed Category 5 hurricane that hit Florida on Sept. 3, 1935, holds the all-time record with maximum wind speeds measured at 185 mph. Ian’s wind speed of 150 mph at landfall puts it among the top, ranking among Hurricane Charley, which hit Florida in 2004, and Hurricanes Ida (2021) and Laura (2020), which both hit Louisiana. These three storms also had maximum wind speeds of 150 mph.
A storm with a slightly lower maximum wind speed, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, is the deadliest weather disaster in U.S. history. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people.
Hurricane Katrina is considered one of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history, both in lives lost and monetary losses.
The NHC reports Katrina caused roughly $75 billion in damages in the New Orleans area and along the Mississippi coast. Adjusted based on the 2022 Consumer Price Index, a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that’s about $186.3 billion today. Katrina, which reached Category 5 intensity, is responsible for the deaths of anywhere between 1,200 and 1,500 people.
Katrina was the deadliest to strike the United States since the 1928 San Felipe-Okeechobee Hurricane that slammed Puerto Rico and southern Florida killed more than 2,000 people.
The NHC’s recent report that adjusted costs for 2022 lists 2017’s Hurricane Harvey as the second-most costly storm, causing an adjusted total of $148.8 billion. Other highly damaging storms listed in the report include Hurricanes Maria ($107.1 billion), Sandy ($81.9 billion), and Ida ($78.7 billion).
Some of the most devastating to hit Florida include 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, which hit as a Category 5 storm and caused roughly $55.9 billion (adjusted for 2022) in damage. Hurricane Charley, which followed a similar track that Hurricane Ian has been following, caused an adjusted $24.6 billion in damages.
It’s too soon to say exactly how devastating Ian has and will be in the U.S. Before making its way to Florida, Ian tore through western Cuba. State media reported two deaths in the province: a woman killed by a falling wall and another by a collapsed roof.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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