6 Worst Hurricanes in History

In the past few months, the United States has experienced two extremely devastating hurricanes: Harvey and Irma, chewing up the Houston area and the Florida keys respectively. Hurricanes are incredibly destructive natural disasters that often lead thousands of people homeless or dead in their wake. Aftermath of two such disasters, you might find yourself wondering about the worst hurricanes in history.

We dug back through history and came up with the six worst hurricanes in recorded history. If you’re an astraphobe, read on at your own peril, because we’re about to cover some major meteorological destruction.


1. Hurricane Iniki

Brewed by the warm phase of 1991 to 1994’s El Nino, Iniki reached category 4 levels as it passed over the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi. The resolute inhabitants of the island fared extremely well given their short 24-hour notice, banding together to cook and distribute perishable goods following island-wide loss of power.

Only six deaths were attributed to Iniki, but the collateral damage of Iniki totaled $1.8bn in 1992 USD.

Kaua Hawaii, one of the locations of the worst hurricanes in History
Kaua Hawaii, one of the locations of the worst hurricanes in History

2. Galveston Hurricane of 1900

On September 4th, 1900, a warning was released saying that a large tropical storm had just passed Cuba heading west across the Gulf of Mexico. The exact nature of the storm wasn’t clarified by the US Weather Bureau, and so Galveston-area Texans were ill prepared for the 15-foot storm surges and 135mph winds that the category 4 hurricane brought to them. Over 3,600 houses were destroyed, 6,000 lives were lost, and $20m in damages were done by the hurricane, making it the deadliest natural disaster in American history.

Body_in_the_ruins,_Galveston_hurricane,_1900
one of the worst hurricanes in history, Galveston Hurricane 1900 | Niagara Falls, N.Y. : M.H. Zahner, publisher, c1900.

3. Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Ike devastated the numerous islands south of the United States before wreaking havoc in Texas in 2008. With $24bn done in damage to the US and another $7.3bn done in Cuba, $200m in the Bahamas and $500m done in the Turks and Caicos, a total figure of $32bn in damage were done by Ike, making it one of the three most destructive hurricanes in history. 195 deaths were attributed to Ike between first landfall and Haiti ’til its termination in Galveston.

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This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 080916-N-3595W-003 | Aerial photograph of flooding caused by Hurricane Ike

4. The Great Hurricane of 1780

Given its antiquity, not as much hard statistical data is known about the Hurricane of 1780. What is known is that it ravaged Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Lesser Antilles, Bermuda and the southern United States. Claiming over 22,000 lives and cementing its place as the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history.

800px-HMS_Hector_and_HMS_Bristol_in_a_Hurricane_1780
The Great Hurricane of 1780 | Elliott, William, Lt (artist & publisher); Green, Valentine (engraver)

5. Hurricane Andrew

Despite being the only named hurricane of the 1992 hurricane season. Andrew left its mark on the northwestern Bahamas, southern Florida as well as southwest Louisiana. It caused between $26.5bn and $34bn in damage, though—amazingly enough—only 26 deaths were directly caused by Andrew, with another 39 secondary deaths as a result of the hurricane.

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6. Hurricane Katrina

Katrina is one of the most ubiquitous hurricanes in American history, and anybody alive to remember its devastation in 2005 is sure to recall what an unbelievable tragedy it was, largely due to a lack of preparedness on the part of New Orleans. Katrina made landfall in Louisiana as a category 5 hurricane, caused $160bn in damage, and claimed the lives of at least 1,833 people. It is the deadliest storm on record in the United States since 1928. The absolute destruction of Katrina lead to sweeping FEMA reforms and severely tarnished then-president George W. Bush’s reputation.

A PJ's night in New Orleans
Life After Katrina, Airmen ready to help again | copyright US Air Force

That’s that. The six deadliest hurricanes in history, five of which suggest that settling in Florida or Texas may not be the wisest decision. Stay safe during hurricane season, friends! And can plan a further trip accordingly.

 

Author: Billie Hauk

24-year-old Tennessee local yokel, part-time LGBTQ+ journalist and blogger.

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