Houston Windstorm Causes Preliminary Economic Loss of $5-7B: AccuWeather

The destructive windstorm that blew out windows in downtown Houston and left hundreds of thousands of southeast Texas residents without power caused upwards of $5-7 billion in total damage and economic loss, according to preliminary estimates by AccuWeather.

Thousands of Houston metro businesses face long-lasting impacts due to vehicle, equipment and property damage, AccuWeather said in a news release. Damage may have occurred to tens of thousands of homes and apartments in the region, the weather news agency said.

The windstorm, which began the evening of May 16 and lasted through midday of May 17, flipped cars on the highway, brought down trees onto homes and parked vehicles and took down large transmission towers and power lines. The storm left at least seven people dead.

The National Weather Service reported straight line winds of at least 80 mph in a single direction. At least one tornado was confirmed to have hit the Houston suburb of Cypress.

“This was an incredibly dangerous and destructive storm, impacting one of the largest cities and busiest travel hubs in America,” said AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter. “Downtown Houston has not seen wind damage like this since Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Hurricane Alicia in 1983. This windstorm will go down in the history books as one of the most damaging storms in modern Houston history that was not caused by a hurricane.”

Porter likened the windstorm and the resulting damage to the economic loss of a category 1 hurricane hitting much of Florida.

“Though this windstorm was completely different from a meteorological perspective than a hurricane, people in the Houston area may have felt like they experienced a brief “mini-hurricane” since the damage looks similar to that which might be experienced from the wind impacts of a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale,” said Porter

AccuWeather’s damage estimate includes both insured and uninsured losses and is based on a variety of sources, statistics and unique models the weather news service uses to estimate damage.

Top photo: Blown out windows on a high-rise downtown building are shown in the aftermath of a severe thunderstorm Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston. Thunderstorms pummeled southeastern Texas on Thursday killing at least four people, blowing out windows in high-rise buildings and knocking out power to more than 900,000 homes and businesses in the Houston area. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)