We can reach that conclusion using a tool called the ICAT Damage Estimator, an interactive online tool that provides normalized U.S. hurricane losses. Here’s what the tool tells us about past storms that passed within 50 miles of Irene’s current position and made landfall in the U.S.:
Average damage: ~$12.4 billion
Median damage: ~$4.8 billion
You can experiment with tool at the ICAT website
Of course, if Irene takes a hook wide right and just grazes the coastline, the U.S. would likely be spared such an economic toll. But a storm hugging the coast from the Outer Banks to southern New England is unlikely to.