Many people think hurricanes are the worst natural disaster and are very afraid of them. And we should realize the power and strength of these storms. They can cause extensive damage, distressed living conditions and take lives. But, in comparison with other disasters, Hurricanes are one that we can prepare for. We know when a hurricane is approaching and Floridians have become experts on preparation.
Here is a comparison of Weather fatalities according to the National Weather Service
By comparison, here is the data from 2016:
As you can see, Hurricanes are not typically the worst for fatalities, though in 2022, Hurricane Ian changed the numbers with more fatalities in one storm than Florida has seen in many years.
Most of the fatalities from Hurricanes come after the storm from flooding, power lines, generator inhalation, lack of resources, heat or falling limbs. The reason the deaths are lower with hurricanes than other natural disasters is most likely because we can be prepared and get out of harms way in time.
But what about cost? Hurricanes definitely rank high in the amount of financial losses. The 30 costliest mainland United States tropical cyclones, 1900-2022 by the National Weather Service shows the extreme cost from hurricane damage.
Damage to buildings and flooding from the storm surge and torrential rainfalls from the hurricane create the major economic and financial losses. In comparison to other natural disasters like earthquakes, the cost is higher because of the number of hurricanes per year. Earthquakes would be more costly if there were as many major earthquakes per year.
Hurricanes vs. Tornadoes
Tornadoes have more strength with winds speeds that top 200 mph. They are small in diameter so they go through a small area quickly. They form quickly and give little or no warning.
Hurricanes have wind speeds that average 75-130 mph but are much more widespread in size, causing a much larger area of damage resulting in a larger financial loss. But they can be tracked more than a week ahead of time which allows for preparation typically resulting in less deaths.
Hurricanes vs. Earthquakes
Earthquakes have no warning or prep time. Earthquakes can cause other disasters such as tsunamis that are extremely dangerous and offer little warnings as the large wave is an extremely destructive force. A major earthquake on land causes immense damage to buildings and bridges and because they can occur at any time without warning, a significant loss of life.
Hurricanes can be tracked and offer people time to prepare and get out of harms way. Even still, some people still get caught in the storm surge and flooding that results in loss of life. The financial damage is typically property damage to homes and buildings.