(FOX 46 WJZY) - There have been a lot of memorable hurricanes over the years that have affected the US from Maine to Texas. The devastation we have seen with these storms vary significantly from wind damage to flooding, injuries and deaths, and sometimes catastrophic damage. Despite the challenges these type of events bring, we see people and communities coming together to pick up the pieces. Every now and then we get a hurricane that makes its mark in the history books by being the deadliest, strongest, costliest, or causing the most devastation. When you combine the worst of the worst, you get a handful of storms that changed the history of the United States. (All money amounts in US dollars)
1. Galveston Hurricane of 1900
The “Great” Galveston Hurricane of 1900 is by far the deadliest natural disaster to ever effect the US. It made landfall on September 8, 1900 as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 mph. After crossing over Cuba as a tropical storm, it emerged from the Florida strait and quickly intensified to hurricane status. The storm continued to churn in the gulf gaining strength before making a right turn into Texas. The Galveston area was hit with catastrophic damage, but the destruction wasn’t confined to the gulf community. This storm continued its path north and slowly weakened as it passed over Oklahoma, the Great Lakes, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Even though there have been more intense hurricanes over the years, the Galveston Hurricane caused massive destruction and a record death toll. It’s easily is considered to be the worst storm to hit the United States.
- Lowest pressure was 936 mb
- Galveston sits a 9ft above sea level and the storm surge rose to 15ft.
- 3,600 Homes were destroyed.
- 8000 people died, which was about 20% of Galveston’s population (possibly up to 12,000 people died along the path through Canada), 30,000 injured.
- $21 million in damage ($605 million in 2016)
2. Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928
Just two years after the Miami Hurricane of 1926, Florida got served another massive blow that crippled the southern part of the state. The Okeechobee Hurricane is one of the deadliest and most destructive storms to ever hit the United States. On September 6, 1928, the tropical cyclone developed off the African coast and quickly intensified to a tropical storm by the end of the day. This storm continued to gain strength while sliding west across the Atlantic becoming a Category 4 hurricane just before striking Guadeloupe on September 12. The hurricane then proceeded to roll over Martinique, Montserrat, and Nevis as a Cat 4, leaving a path of devastation in its wake. On September 13, 1928, it slammed into Puerto Rico as a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 160 mph. Finally, after several days of battering the Bahamas, the Okeechobee hurricane made landfall around West Palm Beach on September 17 as a Cat 4 storm. The hurricane’s 145 mph wind and high storm surge destroyed 1,711 homes along the Florida coast. It then turned north slowly weakening to a Category 1 hurricane before heading back into the Atlantic and making a second landfall in South Carolina.
- 4,079 deaths, second deadliest hurricane on record (1,200 in Guadeloupe, 312 in Puerto Rico, & 2500 in US)
- 160 mph winds, Low pressure of 929mb
- 100 million in damage (105 billion in 2016)
- Devastation in Puerto Rice: 24,728 homes destroyed, 192,444 damaged, and 500,000 people homeless
- Storm surge caused Lake Okeechobee to pour out the southern edge flooding hundreds of square miles with as much as 20ft of water
3. Hurricane Katrina, 2005
The Gulf coast was hit with a monster storm in 2005 as Hurricane Katrina barreled in and crushed everything in its path. Katrina tops the list for the costliest natural disaster and third deadliest storm to ever hit the US. This storm developed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005 and quickly intensified into Tropical Storm Katrina the very next day. The tropical storm headed westward toward Florida slowly strengthening to a Category 1 hurricane just two hours before making landfall at Hallandale Beach, FL on August 25. It briefly weakened to a tropical storm over Florida before emerging into the Gulf of Mexico on August 26. Katrina began to rapidly intensify and strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane over the warm Gulf waters. This storm eventually made a second landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on August 29 in southeast Louisiana.
Katrina’s most catastrophic impacts were from storm surge rather than wind because of its sheer size. The large field of strong onshore winds pushed record breaking storm surge into the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The surge penetrated six miles inland across most of South Mississippi, and up to 12 miles inland along bays and rivers. Water also pushed west into Lake Pontchartrain, leading to a storm surge of 10 to 19 feet. The network of canals and channels around New Orleans was initiated with massive amounts of water leading to the breaching of levees and flood walls. This left 80percent of New Orleans under water.
- 108 billion in damages, costliest on record
- Central pressure dropped to 902mb, which was the lowest pressure observed in an Atlantic basin hurricane since Gilbert in 1988.
- Estimated 28ft storm surge at its peak, the highest surge on record in the US
- 1,577 people died, 200 of these were killed from flooding in Mississippi. 6000 were injured.
- Made landfall near Buras, LA with a pressure of 920mb, which remains the lowest pressure on record for a Cat 3 landfall.
- More than 10,000 gallons of oil was spilled into the Gulf
4. Miami Hurricane of 1926
In the early 20s, Miami was the fastest growing city in the United States with an influx of people from all over the country. So, a good portion of the population was unfamiliar with hurricanes and their effects. On September 11, 1926, ships contacted the US Weather Bureau to notify them that a hurricane was about 1,000 miles east of the Leeward Islands. This storm continued its path west crossing over Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas. The initial reports from the US Weather Bureau informed Florida residents that the storm would not hit their state and a hurricane warning wasn’t issued until less than 24 hours before the storm made landfall. The Miami Hurricane of 1926 made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on September 18, 1926. The eye passed right over Miami and skies cleared for about 35 minutes, so everyone thought the storm was over. Many people emerged from their homes and crowded the streets not knowing that the worst of the storm was yet to come.
- Max winds recorded were 150 mph with a low pressure of 930 mb
- 10ft storm surge at the height of the storm
- $105 million in damage ($2.8 billion in 2016)
- Made a second landfall in Alabama and Mississippi
- 372 people died, 150 of these were killed when the Muck dike broke near the town of Moore Haven. 6000 were injured.
- The devastation of this hurricane combined with the Great Depression wrecked Florida’s economy. The state didn’t fully recover until the 1940s.
5. Hurricane Andrew, 1992
This Category 5 storm pummeled South Florida and the Gulf Coast in August of 1992. Tropical Storm Andrew actually developed in the east Atlantic on August 16 and then spent a week meandering west with no significant signs of strengthening. The storm rapidly intensified to a Category 5 hurricane just before reaching the Bahamas on August 23, 1992. Even though it briefly dropped to a Cat 4 over the Bahamas, Andrew quickly returned to Cat 5 status before slamming into the Florida coast on August 24. It made landfall with a central pressure of 922mb, making it the fourth most intense hurricane to strike the US. The hurricane emerged in the Gulf of Mexico a few hours later as a Cat 4. Andrew quickly turned right and weakened to a Cat 3 before making a second landfall in Louisiana on Aug 28, 1992.
- 175 mph winds, Low pressure of 922mb
- $26.5 billion in damage
- Home damage: 63,000 destroyed, 124,000 damaged
- 65 deaths
- 1.4 million people lost power at the height of the storm
- 70,000 trees down in the Everglades, 80 percent of the trees were lost in the Atchafalaya River Basin
- 187 million fresh water fish were killed throughout the basin and Bayou Lafourche
- 500 million in losses for the oil companies
It will be interesting to see where Harvey and Irma will end up in the history books and if they fall somewhere in this list. We have definitely had a hurricane season worth talking this year.
2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season So Far…
The 2017 hurricane season has already been one to talk about and we are not even half way through! So far, we have seen 8 named storms with the first one developing back in April. Most of the cyclones this season have remained in the tropical storm category, but four of the storms strengthened to hurricane status with two becoming a major hurricane.
Tropical Storm Highlights…
It has not only been an active season; we’ve also seen some significant events. The most recent and memorable storm of 2017 was Harvey. This Cat 4 hurricane caused catastrophic damage and record breaking flooding over southeast Texas. After spinning over Texas for a few days, Harvey moved back into the Gulf near Louisiana. Harvey then made one more final turn to the north and eventually making a second landfall in SE Louisiana. This storm will definitely go down in the history books.
*First major hurricane to hit the US since Wilma in 2005
*First Category 4 storm to make landfall in Texas since Carla in 1961
*First Category 4 storm to make landfall in the US since Charley in 2004
Harvey wasn’t the only big talker this season! Here is a look at a few more highlights.
*Tropical Storm Arlene developed on April 19th in the northern Atlantic Ocean. This was the first tropical storm to develop in April since Ann in 2003. Arlene was one of two storms ever recorded in April and was the stronger of the two.
*In mid-June a rare low-latitude tropical storm developed and struck the Island of Trinidad. Bret was the earliest storm to form in the in the Main Development Region on record. It was the lowest latitude named storm since 1933 for the month of June.
P Photo Courtesy: Weather Underground
*Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall around the Texas and Louisiana border on June 22. This was the first tropical cyclone to strike Louisiana since Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
*Franklin became the first hurricane of the season on August 9th. After crossing over the Yucatan Peninsula as a tropical storm, Franklin quickly intensified to hurricane status in the Bay of Campeche. It only lasted about 5 hours before making landfall in Mexico and weakening rapidly.
Hurricane season doesn’t officially end until November 30. The first half has been pretty active, let’s hope the second half is much quieter!
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