Modern technology and advances in the prediction and forecasting of hurricanes, including the track and potential intensity have helped weather experts and local television and radio meteorologists warm people about potential hurricanes that may be headed their way. These advance warning systems and knowledge about the type of structural strength that is needed to keep people safe during hurricanes has greatly contributed to a reduction in the loss of life because of hurricanes.
There was a time, however, when there was no technology that could warn people or any way to track the path of hurricanes or forecast the number of potentially severe hurricanes that may actually make landfall. Because of that, there have been a number of incredibly deadly hurricanes that have struck the United States.
Here is a look at the eleven deadliest of the hurricanes to make landfall anywhere in the United States.
1.) The Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 -
This unnamed hurricane struck the Texas barrier island of Galveston on September 8, 1900. It is the deadliest recorded hurricane in American History. The storm first appeared as a tropical storm near Cuba, somewhere around September 3.
It then traveled through the Gulf of Mexico and ultimately made landfall on Galveston island on September 8, 1900. Estimates of the death toll have varied from 6,000 to 12,000, although 8,000 is the number most often given for the total who died from that storm. Enormous storm surges of between 8 to 15 feet flooded the entire island.
A tribute to those who died in that storm was built and the bronze sculpture was placed by the sea where the storm made landfall. A sea wall was later built to act as a barrier to protect people from storm surge. That didn't seem to help much when hurricane Ike hit the island on September 13, 2008, flooding the island and pretty much rendering it uninhabitable for quite some time.
2.) San Felipe - Okeechobee Hurricane - Florida, September 16-17, 1928 -
This hurricane has earned the distinction of being the 4th strongest hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. mainland. the torrential rain cased a lake surge of the inland lake Okeechobee. The flood waters rose 9 feet, causing nearby towns to flood as well. The death toll in Florida was 1,836, however, an additional 312 people died in Puerto Rico.
3.)Hurricane Katrina - Louisiana and Mississippi - August 25 - 29, 2005 -
Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Mississippi as a category 4 storm, causing immense flooding in New Orleans because of a breech of the levees. More than 800 conformed deaths have been blamed on Hurricane Katrina.
4.) Long Island Express - North Carolina to New York, September 20-22, 1938 -
Called the Long Island Express, this hurricane zipped past North Carolina on September 20 before zipping up to Long Island on September 22, where it landed as a category 3 storm. It created storm surges of 12 to 16 feet, killing 600 people in the process.
5.) The Great Labor Day Storm - Florida - September 2, 1935 -
This is one of only three hurricanes to make landfall as a category 5 storm. The storm was dubbed the Great Labor Day Storm and 423 people died in Florida. Interestingly, most of the deaths happened when a train that was carrying World War I veterans got overturned. The storm became famous, not so much because of the death of so many war veterans, but because it was the inspiration for the Humphrey Bogart -Lauren Bacall movie entitled "Key Largo."
6.) Hurricane Audrey - Texas and Louisiana - June 26, 1957 -
Hurricane Audrey was a category 4 storm that brought 8 to 12 foot storm surges, flooding low lying inland areas as far as 25 miles from the coast of Louisiana. 390 deaths were attributed to Hurricane Audrey.
7.) The Great Miami Hurricane of September 18, 1926 -
There was almost no warning prior to this hurricane's landfall. The town of Moore Haven which is located south of Lake Okeechobee was totally flooded because the lake overflowed, spilling water everywhere. Even weeks after the storm the town was still flooded and hundreds of Moore Haven residents lost their lives. According to the Red Cross, 373 people died, but it is thought that the death toll was substantially higher because a large portion of the population at the time was either new or transient and there weren't people who could account for them.
8.) Grand Isle Hurricane - Louisiana - September 20, 1909 -
350 people died as a result of this category 4 storm that hit Louisiana between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
9.) Atlantic-Gulf Hurricane - Florida and Texas - September 10 - 14, 1919 -
This hurricane just made landfall as a category 4, after which it entered the Gulf of Mexico, making a second landfall in Texas as a category 3 storm. Although 287 deaths were recorded on the U.S. mainland, more than 500 people died because ten ships were destroyed and all of the passengers were lost at sea.
10.) Unnamed Storm - New Orleans, Louisiana - September 30, 1915 -
This category 4 storm killed 275 people as a result of flooding in Lake Pontchartrain when the lake overflowed its banks. The storm was an eerie foreshadowing of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
11.) Unnamed Storm - Galveston, Texas - August 5, 1915 -
Although a seawall was built after the horrible hurricane of 1900 killed upwards of 8,000 people, this hurricane made landfall as a category 4 storm. Water poured over the seawall, flooding the city and causing massive devastation. 275 people died in this hurricane.
These are the storms that caused the most loss of life in U.S. history. Many of these storms occurred at a time when there was no technology to foresee what might happen and when there were no ways to warn people in advance. Thankfully, things have changed substantially since then and people are more aware of what these storms can do and what they need to do to ensure that they are prepared well in advance of the storm. These deaths should serve as a chilling reminder to people that there are many ways people can die in a hurricane, and many of those ways are unnecessary if people would heed the warnings and prepare their homes and families long in advance.
Epic Disasters: The ten deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history -