Hurricane season in the United States runs between June 1 and November 30 every year. During the hurricane season, violent life-threatening storms cause varying levels of damage depending on the storm’s intensity. However, not all hurricanes are deadly. Still, there have been some really horrible ones throughout history. Here’s a look at some of the deadliest hurricanes to ever hit the United States.
Number of deaths: 285
Hurricane Sandy was a category 2 storm when it made landfall in Cuba in October 2012. However, it soon became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, with a top speed of up to 115mph. At peak intensity, the hurricane was a category 3. But it caused significant damage across various locations. The estimated damage was worth $71 billion, making it the second costliest hurricane in the history of the United States. The hurricane killed 285 people across 8 countries. 24 US states felt the storm’s impact, including the entire eastern seaboard.
Number of deaths: 416
Hurricane Audrey was the deadliest storm of the 1957 hurricane season and is also regarded as the deadliest storm in the 1950s. It was a category 3 storm that caused significant devastation on the Southwestern coast of Louisiana. The storm reached a maximum speed of 125mph. Most of the damage resulting from this storm occurred near the border between Louisiana and Texas.
Number of Deaths: 600 to 900
Also known as the 1919 Florida Keys Hurricane, The Atlantic Gulf hurricane was a category 3 storm that devastated the Gulf of Mexico in September 1919. The storm was massive and slow-moving. Experts believe that these two factors contributed to the extent of damage done by the storm. An estimated 600 to 900 people died from the Florida Keys Hurricane. Most people that died (up to 500 people) were on ten ships lost at sea during the hurricane.
Cheniere Caminada Hurricane
Number of deaths: Between 1100 to 1400
When the Cheniere Caminada hurricane occurred in October 1893, scientists were yet to start designating official names for tropical storms. This storm is also known as the Great October storm. The main area affected by this hurricane was Cheniera Camanida, a fishing community in Louisiana. It is located roughly 100 miles south of New Orleans. The Cheniere Camanida was a category 4 storm ranked as the deadliest hurricane Louisiana ever witnessed.
Sea Islands Hurricane
Number of deaths: 1000 to 2000 people
The Sea Islands hurricane was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall near Savannah, Georgia. However, some estimates say it might have strengthened into category 4 or 5 before it blew over. The storm ravaged the coastal regions of Georgia and South Carolina. However, the most affected area was the Sea Islands (a group of islands near the coastlines of northern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina). It is difficult to estimate the death toll from this hurricane, but some reports claim it was somewhere between 1000 to 2000 people in total.
Number of deaths: Over 1800 people
Hurricane Katrina was a category 5 storm that made landfall in Florida and Louisiana on August 29, 2005. Over 1800 people perished in the storm across various locations on the Gulf Coast that were severely hit by the storm. The most significant damage by this storm was in the City of New Orleans, where levees broke, flooding more than 80% of the entire city. The estimated cost of damages in New Orleans alone was over $125 billion, making this storm the costliest in United States history.
San Felipe Okeechobee
September 10, 1928
Number of deaths: 2500 to 3000
The Okeechobee hurricane of 1928 caused more than 2500 deaths, mainly in the Lake Okeechobee area in Florida. The category 5 storm reached a speed of up to 160mph when it hit Puerto Rico. More than 24,000 homes were destroyed in the storm, and the heavy rainfall and high winds caused significant damage to agriculture and vegetation in the area.
Number of deaths: 2,975
Hurricane Maria was a category 5 hurricane that made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. It is the worst natural disaster to hit the Caribbean islands that are a part of the United States unincorporated territories. 2017 had a particularly active hurricane season; Hurricane Maria was the second category 5 wind recorded that year. Wind Speed reached a maximum of 175mph. The hurricane caused significant damage in Puerto Rico, Dominica, and the Dominican Republic. However, the worst hit in all these was Puerto Rico, where over 2900 deaths were recorded.
Number of deaths: 6,000 to 12,000
It’s difficult to say for sure the number of people that died due to the great hurricane that hit Galveston at the turn of the 20th. However, estimates put the figure anywhere between 6,000 to 12,000 people. This makes it the deadliest in United States history. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the Galveston hurricane was a Category 4 or 5 storm. Wind speed might have been anywhere between 130 to 156 mph. The storm struck Texas City, then headed Northwards through the Great Plains. The coastline was hit by 8 to 12ft of water, destroying more than 7000 buildings in Galveston. The great storm of the 1900s is considered the deadliest natural disaster in the country’s history.
The hurricanes listed in this post are among the deadliest hurricanes to ever hit the United States. Note that they have been ranked based on the number of casualties alone. This means they are not necessarily the highest-intensity storms. Also, there may be other storms that caused more extensive property damage compared to these.
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What was the costliest storm in US history?
The most significant damage by Hurricane Katrina was in the City of New Orleans, where levees broke, flooding more than 80% of the entire city. The estimated cost of damages in New Orleans alone was over $125 billion, making this storm the costliest in United States history.
What was the deadliest natural disaster in US history?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the Galveston hurricane was a Category 4 or 5 storm. Wind speed might have been anywhere between 130 to 156 mph. The storm struck Texas City, then headed Northwards through the Great Plains. The coastline was hit by 8 to 12ft of water, destroying more than 7000 buildings in Galveston. The great storm of the 1900s is considered the deadliest natural disaster in the country’s history.
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- BusinessInsider.com / Rachel Murphy, Available here: https://www.businessinsider.com/deadliest-hurricanes-in-us-history-maria-katrina-galveston-2019-6?r=US&IR=T
- BusinessInsider.com / Lydia Ramsey Pflanzer , Available here: https://www.businessinsider.com/deadliest-hurricanes-storm-in-american-history-2016-9?r=US&IR=T
- NDTV.com, Available here: https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/10-deadliest-hurricanes-to-ever-hit-the-united-states-1742317
- USNews.com / Megan Trimble, Available here: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/slideshows/the-deadliest-storms-in-us-historyhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_deadliest_tropical_cyclones