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Hurricane Laura is expected to join these devastating storms as the most destructive ever

August 27, 2020, 10:42 AM UTC

Hurricane Laura, which is roaring toward Louisiana and eastern Texas, threatens to become the eighth storm that’s Category 4 or stronger to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast in modern history.

It follows Michael, which devastated the Florida panhandle in 2018, and Harvey, which deluged Houston in 2017.

Three of the eight biggest storms have come in the past four years, posing significant risk to Gulf of Mexico drilling platforms that account for as much as 17% of America’s oil production and about 3% of its natural gas output. Four of the top hurricanes were in the 1950s and 1960s, and Charley struck in 2004.

Laura is already a Category 3 major hurricane and its winds are forecast to peak at 145 miles (233 kilometers) per hour. That would be stronger than Hurricane Harvey had at landfall in 2017. It may cause $25 billion in damage and economic losses, with at least $5 billion in destruction to refineries alone, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research.

Most Expensive Atlantic Hurricanes to Reach U.S.
Tropical CycloneYearCategoryAdjusted Costs (Billions)
Katrina20053$170
Harvey20174$131.3
Maria20174$94.5
Sandy20121$74.1
Irma20174$52.5
Andrew19925$50.5
Ike20082$36.9
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Cost values are based on the 2020 Consumer Price Index adjusted cost.