Atmosphere And Weather

Deadliest Hurricanes in United States History



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Over the last decade, hurricanes have caused approximately one-hundred and seventy billion dollars in damage in the United States. Surprisingly enough the most costly storms have not necessarily been the deadliest. According to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the Category 4 Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was responsible for at least eight thousand deaths. 

The Category 4 Florida Hurricane of 1928 is believed to have been the second deadliest storm in U.S. history, while hurricane Katrina of 2005, the most costly storm in history, was believed to be responsible for approximately fifteen hundred deaths, making it the third deadliest U. S. storm on record. Katrina had climbed as high as a Category 5 before making landfall as a Category 3 in south-east Louisiana and Mississippi.

In the past one hundred and fifty-four years the most deadly storms have generally been recorded at Category 4 or higher with the exception of Katrina and two storms in 1881 and 1893 that both struck the states of Georgia and South Carolina. Over one thousand persons were killed in the former, a Category 2, and seven hundred in the latter, a Category 3.

In total, the top ten deadliest storms of the Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1856 are believed to be responsible for over sixteen thousand deaths. There was also a tropical storm that struck California in 1939 that caused forty-five deaths and there have been a number of storms to strike Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands between 1852 and 1975 causing loss of life into the thousands with the worst having been in a Category 3 Puerto Rico in 1899 that caused over three-thousand fatalities.

Of the deadliest hurricanes in history in the United States fourteen out of fifteen where designated a Category 3 or higher. The data from NOAA states that the large death tolls primarily were the result of tidal surges of ten feet or higher. Only six of the deadliest storms have occurred in the past twenty-five years, most likely due to the National Hurricane Center’s warning system.

The deadliest hurricanes on record for the Atlantic season occurred in 1900 (Galveston, Cat 4) with a total of 8000 deaths; 1928 (Florida, Cat 4) with a total of 2500; 2005 (Katrina, Cat 3) with a total of 1500; 1893 (Louisiana, Cat 4) with an estimate of 1100-1400; another in 1893 (S. Carolina and Georgia, Cat 3) with an estimate of 1000-2000; 1881 (Georgia and S. Carolina, Cat 2) with a total of 700; 1957 (Audrey, Cat 4) with a total of 416; 1935 (Florida, Cat 5) with a total of 408; 1856 (Louisiana, Cat 4) with a total of 400; and 1926 (Florida, Cat 4) with a total of 372 deaths.

With inroads in technology and the help of historical data the National Hurricane Center has been able to provide the public with a wealth of information for emergency preparedness and enough warning of impending storms to allow for the evacuation of areas that could potentially be catastrophically impacted in order to avoid unnecessary loss of life.

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