TIME weather

The Most Destructive U.S. Hurricanes of All Time

As the 2014 hurricane season begins, TIME looks back at the most damaging storms to barrel down on the US.

Hurricanes have been menacing the U.S. as long as anyone can remember, but the monetary damages the storms have caused has increased in recent years, as this TIME photo collection shows. The devastation from Hurricane Sandy — later dubbed a “Superstorm” — rang in at $65 billion, leaving 72 people dead and more than 6 million homeless.

Does that mean hurricanes are getting more powerful or more common? Not necessarily. While many atmospheric scientists believe that climate change may strengthen tropical cyclones—higher temperatures at the ocean tend to feed hurricanes—the power of the storm isn’t the only factor in the extent of the damage. Far more important, at least for now, is the increase in the number of people and the value of the property in coastal areas that are perennially vulnerable to major hurricanes. Hurricane Katrina was so expensive not just because it was powerful, but because it landed directly on top of a major American city—and one that was clearly unprepared for a storm of that magnitude.

The more people and property we put in harm’s way, the greater thee damage any storm will cause. If climate change really does give hurricanes an extra kick—and if we do nothing to slow global warming or prepare for the effects—damage will be incalculably greater.

TIME weather

Severe Storms, Tornados Forecast Across Large Swath of U.S.

A storm chaser photographer looks at thunderstorms supercells pass through areas in Vinson, Oklahoma
A storm chaser photographer looks at thunderstorms supercells passing through areas in Vinson, Oklahoma late April 23, 2014. The thunder storms on were a precursor of what's forecast for this coming weekend. Gene Blevins—Reuters

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service issued warnings about severe weather this weekend across Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. Local residents were urged to prepare for hail, thunderstorms and tornadoes

Updated 4:08pm ET

Multiple tornados and severe thunderstorms are forecast this weekend from Nebraska to Texas, in what could be the worst severe weather event of the season so far.

The storms are expected to begin late Saturday and could last into the night before spreading to other areas, according to AccuWeather.com.

Multiple tornados had already touched down in eastern North Carolina by Saturday afternoon, sending 16 people to the emergency room so far and destroying or damaging 200 homes, CBS News reports.

“South-central Kansas to west-central Oklahoma would be in an elevated risk area for severe weather Saturday evening,” meteorologist Scott Breit said. The storms could then move in the direction of Omaha, Neb., Wichita, Kan., Oklahoma City, and Dallas later at night.

Sunday could see more tornados and strong hail lasting into the evening as well, according to National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. It warned that Saturday’s storms would be severe, but “isolated and scattered.”

The relatively tame severe weather season so far makes the upcoming inclement weather a particular source of worry. “A reason for extra concern this weekend is that tornadoes have been nearly non-existent so far and people tend to forget what they have learned from year to year,” said Accuweather senior vice president Mike Smith.

[AccuWeather.com]

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