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Pictures | Mon Oct 3, 2022 | 9:53am EDT

The most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history

Galveston Hurricane, 1900: 

With a population of 40,000, the booming port of Galveston was the largest city in Texas when this Category 4 storm hit. The Great Galveston Hurricane remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, killing approximately 8,000 people and destroying 3,600 buildings.


 Courtesy Library of Congress

Galveston Hurricane, 1900: With a population of 40,000, the booming port of Galveston was the largest city in Texas when this Category 4 storm hit. The Great Galveston Hurricane remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, killing...more

Galveston Hurricane, 1900: With a population of 40,000, the booming port of Galveston was the largest city in Texas when this Category 4 storm hit. The Great Galveston Hurricane remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, killing approximately 8,000 people and destroying 3,600 buildings. Courtesy Library of Congress
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Florida Keys Hurricane, 1919:

Also known as the 'Atlantic Gulf Hurricane,' this storm sank 10 ships in the Florida Straits, drowning 500, before causing massive damage to Corpus Christi, Texas. There, the official death toll would be 287, but an estimated 600 people may have died in the 12-foot storm surge that flooded the city.

Courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida

Florida Keys Hurricane, 1919: Also known as the 'Atlantic Gulf Hurricane,' this storm sank 10 ships in the Florida Straits, drowning 500, before causing massive damage to Corpus Christi, Texas. There, the official death toll would be 287, but an...more

Florida Keys Hurricane, 1919: Also known as the 'Atlantic Gulf Hurricane,' this storm sank 10 ships in the Florida Straits, drowning 500, before causing massive damage to Corpus Christi, Texas. There, the official death toll would be 287, but an estimated 600 people may have died in the 12-foot storm surge that flooded the city. Courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida
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Great Miami Hurricane, 1926:

The eye of this Category 4 hurricane passed directly over downtown Miami, at the time the fastest-growing city in the U.S., destroying many building and tourist attractions. Total damage was estimated at $105 million (1926 U.S. dollar value). The official death toll was 373, but it is believed up to 800 people may have perished amid the flooding and debris. The hurricane effectively ended south Florida's economic boom.

Courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida

Great Miami Hurricane, 1926: The eye of this Category 4 hurricane passed directly over downtown Miami, at the time the fastest-growing city in the U.S., destroying many building and tourist attractions. Total damage was estimated at $105 million...more

Great Miami Hurricane, 1926: The eye of this Category 4 hurricane passed directly over downtown Miami, at the time the fastest-growing city in the U.S., destroying many building and tourist attractions. Total damage was estimated at $105 million (1926 U.S. dollar value). The official death toll was 373, but it is believed up to 800 people may have perished amid the flooding and debris. The hurricane effectively ended south Florida's economic boom. Courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida
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Okeechobee Hurricane, 1928:

This Category 4 storm had already devastated the Caribbean, killing 1,500 people by the time it hit southern Florida, destroying thousands of homes in West Palm Beach. The worst was yet to come, as relentless storm surge overwhelmed the small dikes on Lake Okeechobee's south shore, sending a cascade of water up to 10 feet high across an area 75 miles wide. The official Florida death toll was 1,836, most of them migrant farm workers. Decades later, the National Weather Service would revise the toll upward to "at least 2,500," adding that the real number will never be known. Many of the bodies washed out to the Everglades, never to be recovered.

 Courtesy NOAA/National Weather Service

Okeechobee Hurricane, 1928: This Category 4 storm had already devastated the Caribbean, killing 1,500 people by the time it hit southern Florida, destroying thousands of homes in West Palm Beach. The worst was yet to come, as relentless storm surge...more

Okeechobee Hurricane, 1928: This Category 4 storm had already devastated the Caribbean, killing 1,500 people by the time it hit southern Florida, destroying thousands of homes in West Palm Beach. The worst was yet to come, as relentless storm surge overwhelmed the small dikes on Lake Okeechobee's south shore, sending a cascade of water up to 10 feet high across an area 75 miles wide. The official Florida death toll was 1,836, most of them migrant farm workers. Decades later, the National Weather Service would revise the toll upward to "at least 2,500," adding that the real number will never be known. Many of the bodies washed out to the Everglades, never to be recovered. Courtesy NOAA/National Weather Service
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Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane, 1935: 

One of the most intense storms to ever make landfall in the U.S., this hurricane caused at least 408 deaths in the Florida Keys, most of them World War One veterans working on a railroad connecting the Keys to mainland Florida. With winds of 185 mph, it was the most intense hurricane in U.S. history until Gilbert in 1988.


 State Library and Archives of Florida

Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane, 1935: One of the most intense storms to ever make landfall in the U.S., this hurricane caused at least 408 deaths in the Florida Keys, most of them World War One veterans working on a railroad connecting the Keys...more

Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane, 1935: One of the most intense storms to ever make landfall in the U.S., this hurricane caused at least 408 deaths in the Florida Keys, most of them World War One veterans working on a railroad connecting the Keys to mainland Florida. With winds of 185 mph, it was the most intense hurricane in U.S. history until Gilbert in 1988. State Library and Archives of Florida
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New England Hurricane, 1938: 

This hurricane would kill approximately 600 people, destroy 8,900 buildings, leave 63,000 residents homeless, and flatten over 2 billion trees. One of the most powerful and destructive hurricanes in recorded history, the storm made landfall on Long Island at a staggering speed of 47 mph, earning the nickname 'Long Island Express.'

Courtesy Rhode Island Archive

New England Hurricane, 1938: This hurricane would kill approximately 600 people, destroy 8,900 buildings, leave 63,000 residents homeless, and flatten over 2 billion trees. One of the most powerful and destructive hurricanes in recorded history,...more

New England Hurricane, 1938: This hurricane would kill approximately 600 people, destroy 8,900 buildings, leave 63,000 residents homeless, and flatten over 2 billion trees. One of the most powerful and destructive hurricanes in recorded history, the storm made landfall on Long Island at a staggering speed of 47 mph, earning the nickname 'Long Island Express.' Courtesy Rhode Island Archive
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Hurricane Hazel, 1954: 

Hurricane Hazel killed at least 400 people in Haiti before reaching the U.S., causing another 95 deaths as it traveled up the coast. Re-intensifying and merging with a cold front, Hazel passed directly over Toronto, Canada, a city unprepared for hurricanes, causing an additional 81 fatalities.

Courtesy Environment Canada

Hurricane Hazel, 1954: Hurricane Hazel killed at least 400 people in Haiti before reaching the U.S., causing another 95 deaths as it traveled up the coast. Re-intensifying and merging with a cold front, Hazel passed directly over Toronto, Canada, a...more

Hurricane Hazel, 1954: Hurricane Hazel killed at least 400 people in Haiti before reaching the U.S., causing another 95 deaths as it traveled up the coast. Re-intensifying and merging with a cold front, Hazel passed directly over Toronto, Canada, a city unprepared for hurricanes, causing an additional 81 fatalities. Courtesy Environment Canada
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Hurricane Diane, 1955: 

Hurricane Diane's path brought heavy rains and extensive flooding from North Carolina to New York, but the worst damage was in Connecticut, where storm surge effectively cut the state in two. Diane killed at least 184 people and the name was forever retired from the list of rotating storm names.

Courtesy North Carolina State Archives

Hurricane Diane, 1955: Hurricane Diane's path brought heavy rains and extensive flooding from North Carolina to New York, but the worst damage was in Connecticut, where storm surge effectively cut the state in two. Diane killed at least 184 people...more

Hurricane Diane, 1955: Hurricane Diane's path brought heavy rains and extensive flooding from North Carolina to New York, but the worst damage was in Connecticut, where storm surge effectively cut the state in two. Diane killed at least 184 people and the name was forever retired from the list of rotating storm names. Courtesy North Carolina State Archives
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Hurricane Audrey, 1957: 

Flooding an area of 1.6 million acres, Audrey is believed to have killed over 400 people in Louisiana, making it the sixth deadliest hurricane in U.S. history.

Courtesy NOAA

Hurricane Audrey, 1957: Flooding an area of 1.6 million acres, Audrey is believed to have killed over 400 people in Louisiana, making it the sixth deadliest hurricane in U.S. history. Courtesy NOAA

Hurricane Audrey, 1957: Flooding an area of 1.6 million acres, Audrey is believed to have killed over 400 people in Louisiana, making it the sixth deadliest hurricane in U.S. history. Courtesy NOAA
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Hurricane Betsy, 1965: 

"Billion-Dollar Betsy" was the nickname given to this storm, the costliest in U.S. history at the time. After causing extensive flooding in southern Florida, Betsy struck Louisiana, causing a storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain that flooded the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Water reached up to attics, drowning residents as they tried to escape. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hurricane Protection Program was instituted as a result.

Courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida

Hurricane Betsy, 1965: "Billion-Dollar Betsy" was the nickname given to this storm, the costliest in U.S. history at the time. After causing extensive flooding in southern Florida, Betsy struck Louisiana, causing a storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain...more

Hurricane Betsy, 1965: "Billion-Dollar Betsy" was the nickname given to this storm, the costliest in U.S. history at the time. After causing extensive flooding in southern Florida, Betsy struck Louisiana, causing a storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain that flooded the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Water reached up to attics, drowning residents as they tried to escape. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hurricane Protection Program was instituted as a result. Courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida
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Hurricane Camille, 1969: 

The second-most intense storm to make landfall in the United States, Camille is also thought to have created the largest storm surge until Katrina. Over 250 people would die as a result. The devastation of Camille inspired the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, after survivors complained the warnings were insufficient in the face of such intense wind speeds.

Courtesy NOAA

Hurricane Camille, 1969: The second-most intense storm to make landfall in the United States, Camille is also thought to have created the largest storm surge until Katrina. Over 250 people would die as a result. The devastation of Camille inspired...more

Hurricane Camille, 1969: The second-most intense storm to make landfall in the United States, Camille is also thought to have created the largest storm surge until Katrina. Over 250 people would die as a result. The devastation of Camille inspired the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, after survivors complained the warnings were insufficient in the face of such intense wind speeds. Courtesy NOAA
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Hurricane Agnes, 1972: 

Agnes was barely a hurricane when it made landfall in Florida. The worst damage would come over the northeast as Agnes produced rains of up to 12 inches, causing extensive flooding from Virginia to New York, resulting in 122 deaths.

Courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida

Hurricane Agnes, 1972: Agnes was barely a hurricane when it made landfall in Florida. The worst damage would come over the northeast as Agnes produced rains of up to 12 inches, causing extensive flooding from Virginia to New York, resulting in 122...more

Hurricane Agnes, 1972: Agnes was barely a hurricane when it made landfall in Florida. The worst damage would come over the northeast as Agnes produced rains of up to 12 inches, causing extensive flooding from Virginia to New York, resulting in 122 deaths. Courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida
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Hurricane Andrew, 1992: 

The fourth-most intense hurricane to ever make landfall, Andrew left a trail of destruction across Florida and 23 deaths in the U.S. In Dade County alone, 63,000 homes were destroyed, with another 110,000 damaged. Over $1 billion dollars in agricultural damage was done. Andrew was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history until Katrina.

 Courtesy NOAA

Hurricane Andrew, 1992: The fourth-most intense hurricane to ever make landfall, Andrew left a trail of destruction across Florida and 23 deaths in the U.S. In Dade County alone, 63,000 homes were destroyed, with another 110,000 damaged. Over $1...more

Hurricane Andrew, 1992: The fourth-most intense hurricane to ever make landfall, Andrew left a trail of destruction across Florida and 23 deaths in the U.S. In Dade County alone, 63,000 homes were destroyed, with another 110,000 damaged. Over $1 billion dollars in agricultural damage was done. Andrew was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history until Katrina. Courtesy NOAA
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Hurricane Katrina, 2005: 

Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history, producing catastrophic damage and massive loss of life. After overwhelming the levees of Lake Pontchartrain, the storm surge flooded 80 percent of New Orleans. Overall, at least 1,245 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods in the U.S., making it the deadliest hurricane since 1928. Displacing over one million people, Katrina would be the costliest storm in U.S. history, matched only by Harvey in 2017. 

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Hurricane Katrina, 2005: Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history, producing catastrophic damage and massive loss of life. After overwhelming the levees of Lake Pontchartrain, the storm surge flooded 80 percent of New...more

Hurricane Katrina, 2005: Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history, producing catastrophic damage and massive loss of life. After overwhelming the levees of Lake Pontchartrain, the storm surge flooded 80 percent of New Orleans. Overall, at least 1,245 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods in the U.S., making it the deadliest hurricane since 1928. Displacing over one million people, Katrina would be the costliest storm in U.S. history, matched only by Harvey in 2017. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
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Superstorm Sandy, 2012: 

Forming into the largest Atlantic hurricane ever, with hurricane-force winds spanning 900 miles, Sandy affected 24 states across the entirety of the eastern seaboard. A total of 160 people were killed in the U.S., mostly in New York and New Jersey. The East River overflowed, flooding Lower Manhattan and several subway tunnels. Over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed across Long Island, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. Over 2 million were left without power. Sandy was the strongest hurricane to strike New York since at least the year 1700.

REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Superstorm Sandy, 2012: Forming into the largest Atlantic hurricane ever, with hurricane-force winds spanning 900 miles, Sandy affected 24 states across the entirety of the eastern seaboard. A total of 160 people were killed in the U.S., mostly in...more

Superstorm Sandy, 2012: Forming into the largest Atlantic hurricane ever, with hurricane-force winds spanning 900 miles, Sandy affected 24 states across the entirety of the eastern seaboard. A total of 160 people were killed in the U.S., mostly in New York and New Jersey. The East River overflowed, flooding Lower Manhattan and several subway tunnels. Over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed across Long Island, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. Over 2 million were left without power. Sandy was the strongest hurricane to strike New York since at least the year 1700. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
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Hurricane Harvey, 2017: 

Inflicting $125 billion in damage, Harvey is tied with Katrina as the costliest hurricane on record. The wettest storm to make landfall, Harvey inundated the Houston area with widespread flooding, resulting in 30,000 residents displaced and 68 deaths.

 REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Hurricane Harvey, 2017: Inflicting $125 billion in damage, Harvey is tied with Katrina as the costliest hurricane on record. The wettest storm to make landfall, Harvey inundated the Houston area with widespread flooding, resulting in 30,000...more

Hurricane Harvey, 2017: Inflicting $125 billion in damage, Harvey is tied with Katrina as the costliest hurricane on record. The wettest storm to make landfall, Harvey inundated the Houston area with widespread flooding, resulting in 30,000 residents displaced and 68 deaths. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
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Hurricane Maria, 2017: 

Maria would result in the worst natural disaster in the history of Puerto Rico, causing an estimated $90 billion in damage to the already economically struggling U.S. territory. Months after the storm, a research team led by Harvard University estimated the death toll at 4,645, not the 64 pegged by the island's government. The researchers estimate one-third perished because of delayed or interrupted medical care.

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Hurricane Maria, 2017: Maria would result in the worst natural disaster in the history of Puerto Rico, causing an estimated $90 billion in damage to the already economically struggling U.S. territory. Months after the storm, a research team led by...more

Hurricane Maria, 2017: Maria would result in the worst natural disaster in the history of Puerto Rico, causing an estimated $90 billion in damage to the already economically struggling U.S. territory. Months after the storm, a research team led by Harvard University estimated the death toll at 4,645, not the 64 pegged by the island's government. The researchers estimate one-third perished because of delayed or interrupted medical care. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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