NHC says Hurricane Ian is the costliest storm to ever hit Florida
A little more than six months after Hurricane Ian tore across southwest Florida and across the peninsula, the National Hurricane Center has released its final analysis of what it says is the costliest storm to ever hit the Sunshine State.
According to the NHC’s report on Ian, the storm made landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane after hitting Category 5 level while over open waters. The storm was responsible for at least 156 deaths, 66 of which were considered deaths directly caused by the storm.
The NHC said the storm surge was the deadliest hazard, claiming 41 lives, with 36 of those happening in Lee County. The numbers could be higher as 11 migrants on a boat from Cuba have never been recovered, along with a couple living on a boat that was set adrift from the Florida Keys.
The NHC said Ian had peak storm surge inundation levels of 10 to 15 feet above ground level in Fort Myers Beach. Overall, the highest rainfall total measured from Hurricane Ian was 26.95 inches in Grove City, Florida, just north of the landfall location, while most areas north of the center saw significant flooding, including multiple rivers and creeks cresting at record levels.
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The financial destruction of Ian is still felt to this day by southwest Floridians. Overall, Ian caused “an estimated $112.9 billion in total damage in the United States.” That made Ian the third-costliest U.S. hurricane on record.
Florida’s damage made up “$109.5 billion of the total,” making “Ian the costliest hurricane to ever hit the state.”
According to the report, Fort Myers Beach saw an estimated 900 structures totally destroyed and another 2,200 damaged. In Lee County, at least 52,514 structures were impacted, of which more than 5,300 were destroyed and more than 14,200 had major damage.
In Collier County, 33 buildings were destroyed and more than 3,5000 buildings sustained major damage. And in Charlotte County, at least 200 homes were destroyed.
Ian’s wind and storm surge also took down the power for millions of Floridians, despite heroic work by utility workers. Approximately 3.28 million customers total lost power, with the highest amount at one time standing at 2.78 million.
However, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety found one silver lining about Hurricane Ian.
Sarah Dillingham serves as their Senior Meteorologist. IBHS researches weather events and how they impact the basic environment.
Dillingham says Hurricane Ian is showing positive signs of strong building codes in the sunshine state.
“As we have seen, storms like Hurricane Andrew from 1992, which really was the impetus for the Florida building code, becoming what it is today. Following Andrew’s devastation, there have been incremental improvements in adoptions of the building codes,” Dillingham said.
She says her research shows improvement in roof damaging following each storm. As the building codes strengthen, so does the resiliency. However, there’s still a long way to go to ensure no damage from Hurricanes.
Read the full report below:
The National Hurricane Center has released its final analysis of Hurricane Ian, calling it the costliest storm to ever hit the Sunshine State.