The news has been full of reports about the hurricanes hitting the US and the Caribbean. I was curious about past hurricanes. Here is a synopsis of the worst ones prior to Harvey and Irma. My heart goes out to all who have suffered and lost their possessions.
The following rankings of the top ten worst hurricanes in the United States are from The Weather Channel.
10. Hurricane Charley, 2004
After throwing a scare into the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area, Hurricane Charley rapidly intensified and took a right turn into Charlotte Harbor as an intense Category 4 hurricane on Friday, Aug. 13, 2004. Charley was the strongest hurricane to strike the U.S. since Hurricane Andrew raked parts of South Florida in 1992.
Charley's small, but intense eyewall swept through the cities of Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, wreaking heavy damage. If that wasn't enough, Charley accelerated as it sliced northeastward through central and northeast Florida, whipping strong winds through the heart of the Florida Peninsula. Orlando, Florida, reported a peak sustained wind of 79 mph with a maximum gust to 105 mph, and an EF1 tornado ripped through the south side of Daytona Beach.
Charley later made a second landfall south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and tracked into southeast Virginia before losing its tropical characteristics.
At the time, Hurricane Charley had become the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, with damage estimated around $15 billion (2004 dollars). Charley was directly responsible for 10 deaths in the U.S.
9. 1938 Hurricane
SeAs it progressed across the Atlantic, it first became a tropical storm, then was upgraded to a hurricane on Sept. 15, 1938, east of Puerto Rico. By Sept. 19, it began to curve as it passed north of Hispaniola. By this time, it was a strong hurricane.
The storm reached Long Island and southern New England with great ferocity, packing a high storm surge and incredible wind gusts. The tide completely enveloped Fire Island on the south side of Long Island. More than 150 homes were destroyed at Westhampton. There was massive destruction to coastal areas on Long Island and the coastal areas of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Wind gusts of over 180 miles per hour were recorded at the Blue Hill Observatory south of Boston. Providence, Rhode Island, experienced terrible flooding as the tide, even inside the city, rose to almost 14 feet.
The 1938 storm was a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Damage exceeded $306 million and 256 people were killed in the storm.
8. Superstorm Sandy, 2012
Superstorm Sandy was a massive hurricane with an expansive wind field, which sent a destructive storm surge into parts of coastal New Jersey and New York. A total of 650,000 houses were either damaged or destroyed by Sandy, mostly from storm surge and battering waves. In addition, 41 of the 72 direct deaths associated with Sandy in the U.S. were related to storm surge flooding.
Sandy affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York.
Its storm surge hit New York City on Oct. 29, 2012, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. Around 8.5 million customers in the Northeast lost power due to the winds from Sandy. Some were without power for weeks.
The damage estimate for Sandy is $65 billion, making it the second-costliest hurricane in United States history.
7. 1935 Labor Day Hurricane
Based on a pressure of 892 millibars at landfall in the Florida Keys, the Category 5 Labor Day hurricane of 1935 is the most intense hurricane on record to hit the United States.
The very small hurricane underwent an amazing amount of strengthening from a Category 1 to a Category 5 as it moved from Andros Island in the Bahamas on Sept. 1, 1935 to the Florida Keys on the the evening of Sept. 2. According to NOAA, maximum sustained winds at landfall were estimated to be 185 mph with storm surge reaching 20 feet.
NOAA says the combination of winds and surge caused 408 fatalities, primarily among World War I veterans who were working on construction in the area. Many victims were waiting for the arrival of a train from Miami that would evacuate them; However, it never arrived, since much of it was swept from the tracks by the hurricane.
6. 1928 Southeast Florida/Lake Okeechobee Hurricane
This gigantic Category 5 hurricane crushed Puerto Rico and only weakened slightly before hitting south Florida.
The storm made landfall near West Palm Beach with winds of 145 mph. In the city, more than 1,711 homes were destroyed, but the impact was worse Lake Okeechobee. Storm surge caused the lake to overflow and put the surrounding area under 10 to 15 feet of water. Numerous houses and buildings were swept away in Belle Glade, Canal Point, Chosen, Pahokee and South Bay. At least 2,500 people drowned, but it's possible this number is as high as 3,000.
While crossing Florida, the system weakened significantly. It curved and briefly re-emerged into the Atlantic and made another landfall near Edisto Island, South Carolina, with winds of 85 mph.
5. Hurricane Camille, 1969
Hurricane Camille devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast. At the time of its landfall on the night of Aug. 17-18, 1969, the pressure was 900 millibars. The exact wind speeds in Camille will never be known, as all wind-measuring instruments near the core of the storm were destroyed.
The storm surge of 24 feet in southern Mississippi set a U.S. record that would later be surpassed by Hurricane Katrina. Because Camille was compact, the devastating surge focused on a narrower swath of coastline than that of Katrina.
More than 140 people died as a result of Camille's landfall, and another 113 perished in Virginia from flash flooding resulting from the storm's remnants.
4. Hurricane Andrew, 1992
Andrew was a small hurricane, but it packed extreme winds, estimated to be Category 5 strength at landfall along the southeastern Florida coast. The pressure at landfall was 922 millibars.
After striking southern Florida, Andrew made a second landfall in south-central Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane.
The intense winds caused catastrophic damage in southern Florida, destroying or damaging approximately 127,000 homes. Andrew's total cost was $26.5 billion, mostly in Dade County, Florida. At the time, it was the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history.
Incredibly, a landfall just a few miles farther north would have caused catastrophic damage to downtown Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.
3. 1926 Miami Hurricane
The eye of the hurricane passed over downtown Miami and parts of Coconut Grove and South Miami early Sept. 18, 1926. Residents of the city, unfamiliar with hurricanes, thought the storm was over and emerged from their places of refuge out into the city streets. The lull lasted only about 35 minutes, according to the NOAA. The worst part of the hurricane brought 10-foot storm surge onto Miami Beach.
As the hurricane moved inland, water from Lake Okeechobee was blown toward the southwest shore and the town of Moore Haven. A weakened muck dike that had been constructed to protect Moore Haven broke in several places. About 150 people drowned in the floodwaters that persisted in Moore Haven for weeks afterward.
The Red Cross reported that 372 people died in the storm. Damages in 1926 dollars were estimated at $105 million, which would be more than $100 billion in today's dollars.
The 1926 Miami Hurricane made a second landfall in Florida near Pensacola before moving in a weakened state to coastal Mississippi and Louisiana.
2. 1900 Galveston Hurricane
The deadliest hurricane in U.S. history hit the Upper Texas coast in 1900. It began as a tropical storm in the central Atlantic and followed a path south of Hispaniola. As it moved over Cuba, it remained a tropical storm. It rapidly intensified and reached hurricane status as it passed just west of Key West, Florida.
The hurricane made an abrupt turn to the west in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. As the hurricane approached, the winds grew fierce and the tide rose quickly. Wind gusts of over 120 miles per hour pierced Galveston Island and the seas rose to over 20 feet in height.
The Galveston hurricane was a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. An estimated 8,000 to 12,000 people lost their lives, mostly in the Galveston area. More than 3,000 homes were destroyed and damage was estimated at over $30 million.
The storm maintained tropical storm strength as it tracked up through Oklahoma and Kansas. It then weakened and moved through the Great Lakes, over the St. Lawrence River and back out over the North Atlantic Ocean.
1. Hurricane Katrina, 2005
Hurricane Katrina, like Andrew 13 years earlier, struck both Florida and the central Gulf Coast as a damaging hurricane. But unlike Andrew, Katrina's greatest fury was reserved for its second landfall, and its most catastrophic impacts were from storm surge rather than wind.
Katrina delivered a billion-dollar blow to South Florida as a rapidly intensifying Category 1 hurricane. But after it emerged into the Gulf of Mexico, Katrina strengthened into a monster.
At one point, Katrina's central pressure dropped to 902 millibars, the lowest pressure observed in an Atlantic basin hurricane since Gilbert in 1988. Katrina was also a large hurricane, guaranteeing a devastating storm surge as it approached the north-central Gulf coast.
Katrina made its first landfall near Buras, Louisiana, with a pressure of 920 millibars. It remains the lowest pressure on record for a Category 3 landfall; Instead of a focused core of powerful winds, Katrina's energy was distributed by a larger area of strong, but not as extreme, winds.
The large field of strong onshore winds pushed catastrophic storm surge into the Mississippi Gulf Coast, peaking at an estimated 28 feet around Waveland and Pass Christian, the highest surge on record in the U.S. The surge penetrated six miles inland across most of South Mississippi, and up to 12 miles inland along bays and rivers. Over 200 people lost their lives in Mississippi, mostly due to the surge.
Water also pushed west into Lake Ponchartrain, leading to a storm surge of 10 to 19 feet. Water also surged into the network of canals and channels around New Orleans, and the subsequent overtopping and breaching of levees and floodwalls eventually combined to flood 80 percent of New Orleans; it would take six weeks to remove all the water from the city. Katrina claimed 1,577 lives in Louisiana.
Susan is a frequent volunteer at Eastside Community Aid Thrift Shop, where she sorts, prices, and stocks merchandise to her heart's content. Before retirement, she owned and operated a consignment shop for women's plus size clothing in Seattle. Through trial and error and talking with customers, she learned a thing or two. An avid "thrift shopper," Susan loves to buy clothing, especially when she gets good quality and value for her money.
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