Just hours after making landfall in North Carolina, with a path projected up the U.S. East Coast ravaging through high-population areas including New York, Hurricane Irene 2011 holds the potential for being one of the costliest storms ever.
Already New York is in an unprecedented shutdown in anticipation of the storm, and while economic loss for business closings ahead of a storm isn't used as a formal hurricane damage calculation, the impact is indicative of what's to come from Irene.
The storm struck North Carolina Saturday morning as a Category 1 hurricane, packing winds of 85 miles per hour, but it's forecast to remain at hurricane strength until at least a New York strike late Saturday or early Sunday.
But when it comes to storm damage, history shows that heavy inland rainfall and high wind is often one of the most devastating factors. Therefore, Hurricane Irene, with its massive size of more than 200 miles and rainfall production of eight to 10 inches or more targeting nearly 20 percent of the nation's population, threatens to become one of the costliest hurricanes ever in the U.S.
Before Irene, here are the top ten costliest hurricanes to strike the United States, according to figures from a study conducted by the National Hurricane Center:
1. Katrina (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Southeast Florida), 2005, Category 3, $105 billion in damage.
2. Andrew (Southeast Florida, Southeast Louisiana, 1992, Category 5, $45 billion in damage.
3. Ike (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi), 2008, Category 2, $28 billion in damage.
4. Wilma (Florida) 2005, Category 3, $20 billion in damage.
5. Ivan (Florida, Alabama), 2004, Category 3, $29 billion in damage.
6. Charley (Florida), 2004, Category 4, $16 billion in damage.
7. Hugo (South Carolina), 1989, Category 4, $10 billion in damage.
8. Rita (Louisiana, Texas), 2005, Category 3, $12 billion in damage.
9. Agnes, (Northeastern U.S.), 1972, Category 1, $12 billion in damage.
10. Betsy (Florida, Louisiana), 1965, Category 3, $11 billion in damage.