Saturday, March 7, 2015

Deadliest U.S. Hurricanes

Deadliest US hurricanes
We're deep into the Atlantic hurricane season, and 2013 has already seen several named storms. As coastal communities ready themselves for a predicted active season, we take a look back on the 15 deadliest hurricanes to make landfall on the continental U.S. since 1900.

Great Galveston Hurricane

Date: September 1900

Number of deaths: Estimated at 8,000 or more

The catastrophic storm that heaved ashore the island city of
Galveston, Texas, brought winds up to 140 miles per hour and a storm surge of more than 15 feet. The death toll was high enough to make the Great Galveston Hurricane the deadliest natural disaster in American history

 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane

Date: September 1928 

Number of deaths: 2,500

Southern Florida has had no shortage of storm battering over the years, but one of the worst was this Category 4 hurricane. The storm had already blitzed through Puerto Rico, taking a substantial death toll there, when it made landfall in Palm Beach County. Most of the deaths occurred inland around Lake Okeechobee, when water topped the levee at the south end of the lake and flooded agricultural land.

 Hurricane Katrina

Date: August 2005 

Number of deaths: 1,200

Though other hurricanes have had greater wind speeds, Hurricane Katrina
(how powerful were its winds?)  caused the third-highest number of deaths since U.S. hurricane records have been kept. Katrina was the most destructive storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, devastating communities around the Gulf Coast as breached levees led to colossal flooding, and becoming the most expensive hurricane in history.

 Key West Hurricane

Date: September 1919 

Number of deaths: 600-800

This Category 4 hurricane was the only storm to develop in the Atlantic that season, but it was a doozy. It first hit the
Florida Keys before maintaining strength through the Gulf of Mexico, where the National Weather Service "lost" it, and took Corpus Christi, Texas, mostly by surprise. The confirmed death toll in Texas doesn't account for the hundreds more who were lost at sea.

 Great New England Hurricane

Date: September 1938 

Number of deaths: 700

Citizens on
Long Island got slammed by a Category 3 storm that was expected to hit Florida before it dramatically changed course at the 11th hour. It gained intensity as it washed across Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, taking out coastal homes and roadways. When the storm finally fizzled out, the impressive death toll was matched by an equal number of injuries and thousands of buildings lost.

 Great Labor Day Hurricane

Date: September 1935

Number of deaths: 400

When the Great Labor Day hurricane made landfall, it was packing winds of nearly 300 miles per hour — a Category 5 storm. The substantial losses from the storm mostly occurred in
Florida, and it's been said that the number of dead could have been reduced were it not for a forecasting error from the weather bureau.

 Hurricane Audrey

Date: June 1957

Number of deaths: 400

One of history's deadliest storms was an early-season Category 4 hurricane that sent a massive storm surge across parts of southwest
Louisiana and southeast Texas. It was this storm surge that was responsible for many of the lost lives and missing persons.

 Great Atlantic Hurricane

Date: September 1944 

Number of deaths: 400

The Category 3 hurricane passed over
Long Island, made landfall in Rhode Island and headed northeast toward Boston before moving out to sea. Fortunately, loss of life on land was relatively low, but the storm cost millions, devastated World War II shipping lines and sank five ships, including two from the U.S. Coast Guard and one from the U.S. Navy, leading to a much increased death toll.

 Grand Isle Hurricane

Date: September 1909

Number of deaths: 400

This Category 3 hurricane struck
Grand Isle and much of southern Louisiana, with a New Orleans newspaper reporting that every homeowner along that stretch of the Mississippi had been affected by gale-force winds and the accompanying storm surges. The number of dead makes it equal to some of the deadliest hurricanes in history.

 New Orleans Hurricane

Date: September 1915

Number of deaths: 275

It seems that
Louisiana barely gets the chance to recover before it's hit by another hurricane. The Category 4 storm that blew in on 145 mile-per-hour winds resulted in a significant loss of life and damage to property, largely as a result of the flooding — a sort of precursor to the devastation years later from Katrina.

 Galveston Hurricane

Date: August 1915 

Number of deaths: 275

It had been just 15 years since the deadliest hurricane in history when a great Cape Verde-type storm formed in the Atlantic and aimed itself at the coastal city of
Galveston, Texas. A Category 3 when it barreled through Cuba, the storm had intensified to a Category 4 when it made landfall southwest of Galveston. Though the death count was high, it surely would have been higher had it not been for the Galveston seawall built after 1900.

 Hurricane Camille

Date: August 1969 

Number of deaths: 250

Camille, a Category 5 storm that struck along the
Mississippi coast, is credited with being the second-most-intense hurricane on record. Excessive winds — actual numbers are unavailable since the storm destroyed local wind-recording instruments — combined with storm surges and rain led to an unfortunate number of dead.

 Great Miami Hurricane

Date: September 1926 

Number of deaths: 250-350

Residents had little warning that a Category 4 hurricane was about bring a 10-foot storm surge onto
Miami Beach. Many of those residents were new to the area — the population had more than doubled from 1920. Hundreds were killed and thousands more injured by the storm.

 Hurricane Diane

Date: August 1955 

Number of deaths: 200

When Hurricane Diane struck
North Carolina and carried on through Pennsylvania and southern New England, it became the costliest storm to date – the first with damages totaling more than $1 billion. Floodwaters were largely to blame for both the astronomical cost as well as the substantial loss of life.


Southeast Florida Hurricane

Date: October 1906 

Number of deaths: 150

A Category 3 storm — the eighth hurricane in a fairly active season — brought high water and gusty winds that wreaked havoc on the
Florida Keys. Many of those killed were reportedly laborers who lived on houseboats that were washed out to sea and lost.

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