Is Katrina still the costliest hurricane of all time? It’s complicated.

Despite the monster storms this hurricane season and in 2017, Katrina remains No. 1 on the list of costliest hurricanes.

But a twist on the list, with today’s population calculated into historic storms, puts a Florida storm in the top spot, with Katrina at No. 3 and Florida storms otherwise dominating.

Katrina made landfall Aug. 29, 2005, in Buras, Louisiana, as a category 3. The storm’s massive size pushed ashore an unprecedented surge that swamped the Mississippi Coast and breached levees in New Orleans, flooding 75 percent of the city.

Maria slammed Puerto Rico and Harvey flooded the heavily populated Houston area in 2017, followed this season by Florence, a Category 1 storm that stalled and dumped rain in the Carolinas.

Florence rivaled Katrina in size only, preliminary estimates indicate. Florence is expected to join the list of Top 10 Costliest hurricanes, but damage estimates are nowhere near Katrina’s.

Here is an updated list of costliest hurricanes, adjusted for inflation, from the National Climatic Data Center, which consulted with the National Hurricane Center. The list includes insured and uninsured losses. NHC does not yet have an estimate of Florence damage.

The Sun Herald placed Florence on the list based on a preliminary damage estimates from Moody’s Analytics, a company that measures and manages risk.

Costliest hurricanes

1. Hurricane KatrinaCat 3, 2005$160B
2. Hurricane HarveyCat 4, 2017$125B
3. Hurricane MariaCat 4, 2017$90B
4. Hurricane SandyCat. 1, 2012$70,2B
5. Hurricane IrmaCat. 4, 2017$50B
6. Hurricane AndrewCat. 5, 1992$47.8B
7. Hurricane FlorenceCat. 1, 2018$38-50B*
8. Hurricane IkeCat 2, 2008$34.8B
9. Hurricane IvanCat. 3, 2004$27B
10. Hurricane WilmaCat. 3, 2005$24.3B


Global risk-modeling company AIR in 2017 put an interesting twist on the Top 10 costliest hurricanes. AIR looked at historic storms in terms of the damage they would have cause with today’s population. The total damage estimates are lower than those on the NCDC/NHC list because AIR looked only at insured losses.

AIR says it used its U.S. hurricane model to simulate each storm.

“The resulting estimates of insured losses represent what these events would cost the insurance industry today based on AIR’s detailed industry exposure databases and peril-specific take-up rates,” AIR says.

“. . . The real purpose of catastrophe models is to prepare for potential large losses before they occur.”

Katrina was the only storm this century to make AIR’s Top 10 list and it drops to No. 3. Here is a look at AIR’s list, which does not include the current hurricane season:

Costliest storms based on current population

1. Great Miami HurricaneCat 4, 1926$128B
2. Great Okeechobee HurricaneCat 4, 1928$78B
3. Hurricane KatrinaCat 3, 2005$64B
4. Fort Lauderdale HurricaneCat 4, 1947$62B
5. Hurricane BetsyCat 4, 1965$57B
6. Hurricane AndrewCat 5, 1992$56B
7. Hurricane DonnaCat 4, 1960$50B
8. Great New England HurricaneCat 3, 1958$50B
9. Galveston HurricaneCat 4, 1900$49B
10. Galveston HurricaneCat 3, 1915$25B
Anita Lee can be reached at 228-896-2331 or @CAnitaLee1