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Which US states are hit most often by hurricanes?
Where not to live when it comes to risk, including worst times of year and costs of violent storms.
A typical year will see the US hit with 12 named storms, 9 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, according to the Insurance Information Institute. But which state is most at risk — and how much does catastrophic weather cost us?
Where are hurricanes most common?
The West Coast is under the greatest threat of earthquakes and wildfires. But it’s states along the Atlantic coast or by the Gulf of Mexico that are most vulnerable to hurricanes, with Florida the most prone to landfall. In fact, since 1851, nearly 300 hurricanes have made landfall in the United States, affecting 19 states.
Top 10 hurricane states
Of the 297 hurricanes to make landfall in the US, 120 hit Florida — meaning the Sunshine State is affected by roughly 40% of all hurricanes. When these storms do make landfall in Florida, they have a good chance of being severe, with almost a third (31%) of the hurricanes to have hit Florida classified at Category 3, with winds from 111 to 128 mph.
Texas ranks second for most hurricanes in America, its 66 hurricanes accounting for 22% of all hurricanes making landfall in the US. Once again, storms that hit Texas tend to be worse than in other parts of the country, with 29% of them considered major hurricanes.
Tied: 3. Louisiana
Louisiana comes in at third for highest number of hurricanes, tied with North Carolina. The Bayou State has attracted 56 hurricanes, accounting for some 19% of all hurricanes in the US. Hurricanes tend to be more severe than those in North Carolina, with 32% of hurricanes making landfall in Louisiana considered major hurricanes.
Tied: 3. North Carolina
North Carolina ties with Louisiana in accounting for 19% of all US hurricanes. The severity of storm systems between the states differs, with only 13 of the hurricanes hitting North Carolina considered major hurricanes — one of the lowest percentages of all states affected by hurricanes.
5. South Carolina
Rounding out the top five states most affected by hurricanes is South Carolina, which accounts for about 10% of all hurricanes in the US — or 30 hurricanes in total. Unlike its northern counterpart, when hurricanes do hit South Carolina, they tend to be more intense, with 17% classified as major hurricanes.
At No. 6 is sweet home Alabama, with 24 hurricanes making landfall in the state — 8.08% of all US hurricanes. Of those 24 hurricanes Alabama experienced, 58% were Category 1. When looking at major hurricanes, roughly 13% fell into this category.
In not-so-lucky No. 7, we have Georgia, which makes up 7.41% of all US hurricanes. Of the 22 hurricanes making landfall in the Peach State, 3 were major hurricanes while a total of 19 made up the lesser hurricanes.
Coming in at number eight is arguably the state that is most fun to spell, Mississippi. The “Hospitality State” hosts 6.4%, or 19 of all U.S. hurricanes. Major hurricanes made up 42% of Mississippi’s total.
9. New York
The Big Apple makes number nine. New York owns 5.05% of all U.S. hurricanes. That’s a total of 15 hurricanes making landfall in New York. Only 20% of these hurricanes were classified as major hurricanes.
Completing our list of top 10 hurricane states is the Mother of States, Virginia, with 12 hurricanes making landfall in Virginia, or 4.04% of all U.S. hurricanes. Virginia actually had no major hurricanes, as all were categorized under Category 3.
State with the highest chance of a hurricane being a major hurricane
While Mississippi only accounts for 6.4% of all hurricanes to have hit the United States, when these storm systems do make landfall in Mississippi, they tend to be very strong. Over two-fifths (42%) of all hurricanes in Mississippi are major ones.
Number of hurricanes by state
|Rank||State||Category 1||Category 2||Category 3||Category 4||Category 5||All hurricanes||Major hurricanes||% of all hurricanes|
Note: Percentages sum to more than 100 percent because hurricanes can affect more than one state at a time.
When are hurricanes most likely to happen?
In the United States, the hurricane season runs from the beginning of June through the end of November. In fact, the US has never been hit by a hurricane outside those months.
September sees the most hurricanes, with about 37% of all hurricanes coming in that month. August has the next highest frequency of hurricanes at roughly 27%, followed by October at approximately 19%.
Most frequent month for hurricanes in the US
|Month||US landfalling hurricanes||% of all US hurricanes|
|Month||US landfalling hurricanes|
How much do hurricanes cost America?
The cost of hurricanes is on the rise, both financially and in terms of lives. In the last 5 years, America has experienced 4 of the most costly hurricanes, with 9 of the costliest hurricanes happening in the last 20 years.
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 devastated the US and was by far the most expensive hurricane in the country, causing $170 billion in damage and seeing 1,833 Americans lose their lives. While Katrina was the most expensive in terms of dollars, the costliest hurricane in regards to lives lost was Hurricane Maria in 2017, which saw 2,981 Americans perish.
Costliest hurricanes and tropical storms to affect the US – data
|Rank||Name||Date||Total cost in 2020 dollars (millions)||Deaths|
If you live in a hurricane prone state, homeowners insurance will typically cover damage from storms. Policies generally cover damage from lightning, hail, strong winds and other storms. You will need a separate policy to protect yourself from flood damage. Additionally, if you live in these states, consider creating or investing in a hurricane kit.
The data for the number of hurricanes to make landfall by state was calculated from the Hurricane direct hits on the mainland U.S. coastline and for individual states by Saffir/Simpson category, 1851-2018 data by NOAA and was adjusted to include the 2019 and 2020 hurricanes Barry, Dorian, Hanna, Isaias and Laura.
The frequency of hurricanes was calculated using the Total and Average Number of Tropical Cyclones by Month, 1851-2015 data by NOAA and was adjusted to include the 2016–2020 hurricanes Matthew, Harvey, Irma, Maria, Nate, Florence, Michael, Barry, Dorian, Hanna, Isaias and Laura.
The costliest hurricane data was sourced from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (2020), looking at tropical cyclones from 1980 to 2020.
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