September 8, 2017 / 8:04 PM / 10 months ago

Factbox: Florida's most deadly and destructive hurricanes

(Reuters) - Hurricane Irma was churning toward Florida on Friday, prompting the governor to plead with residents in the evacuation zone to flee their homes before the powerful and immense storms slams into the southern half of the state on Sunday.

File Photo: Gregorio Nodal, a resident from Key West, walks across the North Roosevelt coast boulevard, flooded after Hurricane Wilma hit Florida's southern west coast, in October 24, 2005, file photo. Picture taken October 24, 2005. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Following are five of the most deadly and destructive hurricanes to make landfall in Florida, listed in chronological order:

- Great Miami Hurricane, 1926

Miami’s population had boomed in the early 1920s, and hurricanes were a strange phenomenon to new residents. When the eye of the storm came, people wandered outside in the deceptive calm. After they eye had passed, they were caught off guard by deadly winds and high waves. Outside Miami, flooding at Lake Okeechobee also caused many deaths. The storm killed at least 372 people in the state.

- Okeechobee Hurricane, 1928

It made landfall in Palm Beach County, Florida, unleashing waves as high as 20 feet (6 meters). In Palm Beach, a haven for the wealthy, some structures were flattened. The south shore of Lake Okeechobee, where migrant farm workers lived, was flooded as water topped dikes. At least 2,500 people are believed to have died from the storm in Florida, according to the National Weather Service.

- Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane, 1935

The hurricane struck the Florida Keys as a Category 5, the highest ranking possible. It killed more than 200 World War One veterans who were in the Keys to build a highway. The storm ranks as the most intense hurricane to hit the United States, based on a record low barometric pressure reading of 26.35 inches, according to the National Weather Service. It generated wind speeds of up to 200 miles per hour (322 km per hour). After ravaging the Keys, the storm moved north off the western coast of Florida before turning inland. In all, more than 400 people died in Florida.

- Hurricane Andrew, 1992

The hurricane struck South Miami-Dade County and caused an estimated $26 billion in damage. That ranked as the most expensive storm in U.S. history, until Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans and pummeled other parts of the U.S. South in 2005. More than a dozen people were directly killed by the storm in Florida, with others dying of indirect causes.

- Hurricane Wilma, 2005

While the death toll of five victims in Florida was low, compared with other hurricanes, Wilma caused more than $20 billion in property damage. It rambled across the southern part of the state, generating wind gusts of more than 100 miles per hour (161 km per hour).

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank McGurty

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