Deadly Houston windstorm estimated to have caused $5B to $7B in damage, AccuWeather tells ABC13

ByMatt Guillermo KTRK logo
Saturday, May 18, 2024
Widespread Houston-area storm costs $5B to $7B in damage: AccuWeather
The storm that pounded Houston, the fourth-largest U.S. city, caused between at least $5 billion worth of damage, AccuWeather preliminarily reports.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A storm on a Thursday in May is going down in the record books as one of the costliest disasters, if not in Houston, then in recorded history based on preliminary estimates shared with ABC13.

AccuWeather, an Eyewitness News partner, revealed a price tag of $5 billion to $7 billion for the damage caused when a powerful storm line pushed across the Houston metropolitan area. As of Friday, seven people were killed throughout the city and Harris County.

In the day following the Thursday evening storm, ABC13 crews captured multiple trees toppling on homes, electricity towers no longer standing, and the unprecedented sight of downtown Houston's glass skyscrapers riddled with blown-out windows.

Jon Porter, AccuWeather's chief meteorologist, gave no doubts that this would be a historic storm for the fourth-largest U.S. city and the surrounding area.

"Oftentimes there are damaging wind events in Houston, but they tend to be fairly localized," Porter said on Friday, estimating that the storm ripped across town in nearly 90 minutes. "What was unique about this storm was the intensity of the wind gusts - 80 to 100 or more mph over a widespread area from the northwest suburbs right into downtown and into the southeast part of Houston."

Porter believes Thursday's events put the regions at the top of weather and extreme climate disasters comparable to tropical systems like 2022's Hurricane Nicole, which cost $11 billion, and 2017's Hurricane Harvey, which caused an inflation-adjusted $200 billion.

According to Porter, his team came to the dollar estimate based on a diverse set of inputs, including damage to homes and businesses and the lasting impact, like job losses and power outages.

Most importantly, Porter urges southeast Texans to use this disaster and the floods earlier this month as motivators to build a disaster plan.

"It's so critical to be prepared as we head into the official start of hurricane season," Porter said. "Having all this damage right before the beginning of the official start of the hurricane season is a major concern."

More ABC13 coverage on Houston's destructive storm

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In a rare joint press conference, Mayor Whitmire and Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo united to give an update on the impact of storms in Houston on Friday.

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