Worst hurricanes in FL history: Hurricane Andrew circa 1992 – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by: Joseph Sohm
Hurricane Ian gained momentum and transformed into a dangerous Category 4 storm on Wednesday as it ravaged Florida’s Gulf Coast, bringing mass destruction to much of the state.
As Floridians recover from the devastating effects of the storm, here’s a chronological list of the five most destructive and deadly hurricanes to hit the Sunshine State in recent years.
While Hurricane Katrina moved across the southern tip of the state of Florida in 2005, most of the damage it caused was in New Orleans. Katrina still takes the first spot on the list as both the most expensive and deadliest hurricane in modern American history.
Excluding Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Irma was the most expensive in Florida’s history, with total U.S. damage at approximately $50 billion.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Andrew killed 15 people directly and another dozen indirectly, while Hurricane Irma claimed the lives of seven people directly and 80 indirectly.
Hurricane Andrew, 1992
The Category 5 hurricane hit South Miami-Dade County with intense winds of 165 miles per hour (270 km per hour), causing an estimated $25 billion in damages throughout Florida. Andrew held the spot of the most expensive storm in American history until Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005.
Hurricane Charley, 2004
Charley was a surprisingly powerful hurricane, quickly developing into a Category 4 storm shortly before making landfall on Cayo Costa, an island located on Florida’s Gulf Coast. According to the NHC, nine people were tragically killed by the storm, while an estimated $6.8 billion was lost.
Hurricane Wilma, 2005
Wilma’s death toll was thankfully low-only five people-for a Category 4 storm. However, the bill for the storm’s overall property damage was estimated to be a whopping $20.6 billion. Wilma hit South Florida viciously, generating wind speeds of over 100 mph (161 kph).
Hurricane Irma, 2017
Irma was a unique hurricane, to say the least. Its slow movement and extensive size only exacerbated the storm’s heavy rainfall and damaging winds. It caused an estimated $50 billion in property damage and left over 6.5 million Floridians without power, making it another one of the costliest hurricanes in the U.S. According to the NHC’s data, seven people succumbed to the storm while 80 lives were claimed indirectly.
Hurricane Michael, 2018
According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Michael was the strongest storm recorded to make landfall in Florida’s Panhandle. Severe storm surges and wind caused catastrophic damage, specifically in the Mexico Beach and Panama City Beach areas. Eight direct fatalities were reported, one in Georgia and seven in Florida. In addition, 43 indirect deaths were caused by the storm.
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Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.