The Most Expensive Natural Disasters in US History

8. 1988 drought and heat wave

The drought dropped the water level on the Mississippi River and exposed shipwrecks on the river bottom.
Gary Bridgman / Flickr
The drought was so severe that water levels dropped on the Mississippi, exposing shipwrecks that had been sitting on the bottom.

$43.4 billion

Many of the states struck by the 1993 floods had been dealing with the opposite just five years earlier: a severe lack of water. Heat and drought took hold over America's midsection in the summer of 1988 and refused to let go.

Crops were wiped out, groundwater was pumped to near depletion in many areas, and many cities declared water restrictions. The drought was called the worst since the "Dust Bowl" days of the 1930s.

Water levels on the Mississippi River dropped so low that old shipwrecks were exposed on the river's muddy bottom. Some 5,000 deaths were pinned on stifling heat.