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May 3, 2007

Katrina costliest, 3rd deadliest U.S. hurricane

With the 2007 hurricane season less than a month away, the National Hurricane Center has updated its listing of the costliest and deadliest hurricanes to strike the U.S.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Katrina, which struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in late August 2005, is ranked as the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, with damages exceeding $81 billion. Even after adjustment for inflation, Hurricane Andrew, which trashed South Florida in 1992, still comes in a distant second, at $42 billion.

In terms of deaths, Katrina ranks third, with an estimated 1,500 dead. The death toll from the 1900 hurricane that ravaged Galveston, Tex. remains the highest at some 8,000. (The true number has never been determined.) In second place is a 1928 storm that killed an estimated 2,500 in South Florida and Lake Okeechobee. 

Katrina also ranks third in storm intensity at landfall, with a barometric reading of 27.17 inches.

For the full report, click here.

It's interesting to note that the 1900 and 1928 storms were both Category 4 storms, while Katrina was a weaker Category 3 at landfall. Andrew - the second-ranking storm in terms of storm damage, does not even rank among the top 50 for storm fatalities.

The standings reflect what hurricane scientists have been saying all along - that while modern early-warning and forecasting skills are saving lives, intense development along our vulnerable coastlines is accelerating the property damage totals from comparatively weaker storms.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:10 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Hurricane background
        

Comments

One interesting statistic is given in Table 7 of the NWS report, shows the average number of storms per year steadily increasing in all categories. Here are the tropical storm numbers, for example.

...............Avg. No. of
...............Tropical Storms
1851-2006:.....8.7
1944-2006:.....10.6
1957-2006:.....10.7
1966-2006:.....11.1
1977-2006:.....11.4
1987-2006:.....12.6
1997-2006:.....14.5

The more recent averages are for shorter time periods, but it is a scary trend to contemplate.

It is an interesting data set. Climate scientists, however, acknowledge that some portion of the increase, if not all, reflects improved observation, especially since the satellite era began in the 1960s and 1970s. We are seeing some storms that were missed before by land-based and ship-based observers. What global warming theorists say is that rising temperatures in the world's oceans will increase the intensity of storms, not necessarily their frequency.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
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