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The Deadliest U.S. Hurricanes

Posted by Mary Ann Gorman | Posted in Personal Injury News

Hurricanes kill an average of 17 people in the United States every year. But some storms claim much higher death tolls than others.

What are the chances that you will sustain a personal injury or worse during a hurricane?

deadly hurricanes in the united states

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Hurricane Categories

Hurricane threats are rated on the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale, which categorizes danger levels on a scale of 1 to 5.

Category 1:

  • Wind speeds between 74 and 95 miles per hour.
  • Wave surges between 4 and 5 feet.
  • Little damage to buildings.
  • Primarily damages unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees.
  • Minor coastal flooding and pier damage.

Category 2:

  • Wind speeds between 96 and 110 miles per hour.
  • Wave surges between 6 and 8 feet.
  • Little roofing, door, and window damage, but sizeable damage to shrubbery, trees, and mobile homes.
  • Piers and small boats experience significant damage.

Category 3:

  • Wind speeds between 111 and 130 miles per hour.
  • Wave surges between 9 and 12 feet.
  • Small structures experience some structural damage; mobile homes are completely destroyed.
  • Small coastline structures are completely destroyed; larger structures are damaged by flooding.

Category 4:

  • Wind speeds between 131 and 155 miles per hour.
  • Wave surges between 13 and 18 feet.
  • Some complete roof destruction on small residences.
  • Beach areas experience major erosion.

Category 5:

  • Wind speeds in excess of 155 miles per hour.
  • Waves surges in excess of 18 feet.
  • Many residences and industrial buildings experience complete roof failure.
  • Some complete building failures.
  • Major damage caused by flooding on all lower floors of structures near the shoreline.
  • Typically accompanied by mass evacuations of coastal areas.

Hurricane Season

Hurricane season variety.

Pacific Ocean

  • May 15th is the official kickoff date for the eastern Pacific.
  • It won’t end until November 30th.

Atlantic Ocean

  • August 15th marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season.
  • It lasts until around October 30th.

The coast isn’t the only place that suffers.

  • Hurricanes can stretch hundred miles inland.
  • Winds have the potential to top 155 mph.
  • In addition, they can drop violent tornadoes and microbursts.
  • From 1970 to 1999, inland freshwater flooding from tropical cyclones resulted in more deaths than any other hazardous weather condition.

Worst U.S. Hurricanes

September 8th, 1900

  • This Category 4 hurricane slammed into Galveston, Texas, destroying every home.
  • Winds speeds topped out at 130 mph.
  • An estimated 8,000 of the 20,000 residents were killed.
  • St. Mary’s Orphanage contained the bodies of 93 orphans who never left.
  • This hurricane is considered the deadliest ever to hit the Unites States.

September 6th to the 20th, 1928

  • This tropical cyclone wailed across many islands south of Florida; 300 people were killed in Puerto Rico alone.
  • Winds peaked at 150 mph when it hit between Jupiter and Boca Raton, Florida.
  • When it hit Lake Okeechobee, at least 1,836 people were killed and 1,849 were injured.
  • A Category 4 hurricane, this storm is considered the second most devastating in history.

September 9th through the 16th, 1944

  • Also known as the Great Atlantic Hurricane, this Category 3 tropical cyclone stretched from North Carolina to New England.
  • The hurricane only had speeds of 81 mph, with 99 mph gusts.
  • Damages would have totaled around $1.4 billion today.
  • While 344 people were lost at sea, only 46 died on the mainland.

June 25th to the 28th, 1957

  • Hurricane Audrey swept through southwest Louisiana and northern Texas, killing 390.
  • 263 bodies were identified. An additional 127 were not.
  • 192 people were reported missing…and never found.
  • Winds reached top speeds between 140 and 150 mph.
  • Property damage from Audrey was estimated at around $150 million.

August 17th-18th, 1969

  • Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi Gulf Coast the night of August 17th, 1969.
  • Many Mississippians doubted the storm’s power and stayed in its path.
  • Winds exceeded 210 miles per hour.
  • 134 people were killed during the storm.
  • 8.931 were injured.
  • 5,662 homes were completely destroyed, and some 13,915 suffered major damage.

August 22th to the 26th, 1992

  • Hurricane Andrew roared through the Bahamas, eventually demolishing Miami, Florida.
  • Wind speeds exceeded 142 mph, with gusts peaking at 169 mph.
  • $26.5 billion in damages were reported in the wake of Andrew.
  • 23 people were killed in the U.S.

August 29th, 2005

  • Causing in an estimated $75 billion in damages, Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and areas of Mississippi and Alabama.
  • The average wind speed was around 87 mph, though gusts reached up to 114 mph.
  • It’s estimated that 1,000 died in Louisiana, and 200 died in Mississippi.

August 27th to the 29th, 2011

  • 2.3 million people were evacuated prior to the storm’s landfall.
  • 41 people perished in the wake of the storm; Irene caused $15 billion in property damage.
  • Irene is on record as the single most damaging Category 1 hurricane in history.

October 29th – 31st, 2012

  • Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic storm north of North Carolina in U.S. history.
  • Some 106 people died in Sandy’s path.
  • 8.5 million people lost power following the storm.
  • 28 inches of snow fell in Davis, West Virginia after the hurricane ran up against a nor’easter out of Canada.
  • $20 billion in damage was done in New York alone.

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