'Billion-dollar weather': The 10 most expensive US natural disasters

Hurricane Sandy is captured by the Suomi NPP satellite last October in this detailed infrared image courtesy of NOAA. NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory/Reuters/Handout

Quantifying the destruction from major droughts, hurricanes, floods, and other extreme weather can help cities and regions decide how best to invest in protecting against a changing climate. Here are the top 10 priciest US natural disasters (in billions of 2013 dollars, adjusted for inflation), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) compilation of 'billion-dollar weather' events.

10. Hurricane Charley (August 2004): $18.5 billion

  • close
    A view of a mobile home park, devastated by hurricane Charley, in Punta Gorda, Fla.
    Pierre Ducharme/Reuters/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

When hurricane Charley made landfall on the southwest coast of Florida on Aug. 13, 2004, it was relatively small. The storm surge did not exceed 7 feet and rainfall was a modest 8 inches or less.

But what Charley lacked in scale it made up for in ferocious winds that devastated Punta Gorda, Fla., and neighboring Port Charlotte. The Category 4 hurricane spun off 16 tornadoes in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. After crossing through northeast Florida into the Atlantic, it came ashore again near Cape Romain, S.C., before weakening to a tropical storm.

In the end, Charley caused 35 fatalities and $18.5 billion in damages. 

1 of 10