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16 Most Destructive Hurricanes to Have Hit the US

Updated on January 30, 2018
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Srikanth is fascinated by forces of nature. He has written many articles on this topic.

Hurricane Meaning

Hurricane is a deadly storm with wind speed reaching 74 mph or more. It is known by various other terms (like storm, tornado, gale, tempest, typhoon and whirlwind) in other parts of the world.

Many Hurricanes Have Hit the United States of America

Many hurricanes have hit the US and have caused immense damage to people and property. Here is a brief overview of the most deadly hurricanes to have hit the USA.

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Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina began as a low pressure weather system. It strengthened to become a hurricane as it moved west and caused immense damage to people and property in the states of Florida and New Orleans.

Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest and the most destructive hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It is one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States of America.

I'll never forget Hurricane Katrina - the mix of a natural and a man-made catastrophe that resulted in the death of over 1,500 of our neighbors. Millions of folks were marked by the tragedy.

— Cedric Richmond


This Category 4 or 5 hurricane — with winds anywhere from 130-156 mph — made landfall in Galveston, Texas. It then headed north through the Great Plains. It killed more than 8,000 people.

Hurricane Sandy

Considered to be the deadliest of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, Hurricane Sandy killed nearly 300 people. Seven countries, including the USA, were affected by this destructive hurricane.

Winds reached staggering speeds of 185 kmph at the peak of this category 3 hurricane. This natural disaster struck the US in October 2012. It blew roofs off buildings and left many people without electricity.

Hurricane Sandy


Hurricane Sandy was one of the most vicious storm systems to hit the New York City area in nearly two centuries.

— Russel Honore

Hurricane Andrew

This category 5 hurricane struck the US in 1992. Hurricane Andrew reached peak winds of 175 mph. It caused extensive damage to the states Florida and Louisiana. More than 930,000 policy holders in South Florida lost coverage after 11 insurance companies went bankrupt.

As on 1992, hurricane Andrew was the most expensive hurricane in the history of the United States of America. It was the first hurricane in the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season. It inflicted considerable damage to many oil platforms. Five drilling wells of one oil company were blown off course.

Destruction Caused by Hurricane Andrew


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Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Ike struck the US in 2008, damaging property worth more than $37 billion. Nearly 200 people lost their lives due to this destructive hurricane. This CapeVerde-type hurricane was the most intense Atlantic storm of 2008.

Hurricane Ike was a category 4 hurricane. Winds reached speeds of 230 kmph at the peak of this hurricane. It lasted for nearly two weeks. It caused significant damage along the Mississippi coastline and the Florida Panhandle.

Hurricane Ike's Impact in the State of Louisiana


Hurricane Wilma

This intense tropical cyclone affected Bahamas, YucatanPeninsula, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Atlantic Canada, Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras, Yucatan, Cuba, Florida, Europe, Belize and the East Coast of the US.

More than 60 people died due to this low barometric pressure hurricane. This powerful hurricane struck the US in October 2005. Winds reached speeds of 295 kmph at the peak of this hurricane.

Impact of Hurricane Wilma


Hurricane Ivan

This large CapeVerde-type hurricane caused extensive damage in the US and in the Caribbean region. This long-lived hurricane hit the US in September 2004. It affected Grand Cayman, Texas, Windward Islands, Alabama, Cuba, Louisiana, Florida, Jamaica, Grenada, Venezuela and Eastern United States.

This long lived hurricane lasted for more than 20 days. Hurricane Ivan was a category 5 hurricane. It was the fourth major hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. Winds reached 270 kmph at this peak of this disaster.

One Victim of Hurricane Ivan!


Hurricane Charley

Hurricane Charley was the second major hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. This category 4 hurricane lasted from August 9 to August 15. Wind speeds reached up to 150 miles.

This strong hurricane made landfall in southwest Florida. Zolfo Springs were isolated for nearly two days. This was because streets were loaded with power poles, trees, power lines, transformers and debris.

Satellite Image of Hurricane Charley


Hurricane Hugo

This powerful CapeVerde-type hurricane formed over the eastern Atlantic near the Cape VerdeIslands in September 1989. It caused extensive damage in Southeast United States, Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.

This rare hurricane resulted in loss of more than 100 lives. It inflicted damage worth more than $10 billion. More than 100,000 people were left homeless due to Hurricane Hugo.

Destruction Caused By Hurricane Hugo


Hurricane Rita

This intense Atlantic hurricane formed near the Bahamas from a tropical wave on September 18 that originally developed off the coast of West Africa. Wind speeds reached up to 180 mph on September 20.

Image of Hurricane Rita


Hurricane Betsy

This Atlantic hurricane was the first tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin to have caused more than $1 billion in damage. Wind speeds reached up to 155 mph. The states of Florida and Louisiana were affected.

Floods Due to Hurricane Betsy


Hurricane Frances

Hurricane Frances is the third major hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. It hit the US in August 2004. British Virgin Islands, Puerto Ricao, Georgia, North Carolina, Bahamas, Unites States Virgin Islands, Florida, Ohio, Turks and Caicos Islands and South Carolina were affected.

Hurricane Frances


Hurricane Camille

Hurricane Camille was the second hurricane during the 1969 hurricane season. Mississippi, Alabama, Cuba, Louisiana and Southern United States were affected by this hurricane.

Impact of Hurricane Camille

Hurricane Camille Aftermath
Hurricane Camille Aftermath | Source

Hurricane Floyd

This CapeVerde-type hurricane was very powerful. It struck the east coast of the US in 1999. It was third major hurricane in the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season. Atlantic Canada, North Carolina, Bahamas, Florida, Maryland, Maine and the east coast of the United States were affected by this awesome hurricane.

Hurricane Floyd


Hurricane Jeanne

Puerto Rico, Bahamas, United States Virgin Islands, Florida, Dominican Republic and Haiti were affected by this deadliest hurricane in the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. It struck in September 2004 and persisted for more than 15 days.

Impact of Hurricane Jeanne


Hurricane Opal

In 1995, Hurricane Opal (a Category 4 hurricane) wrecked havoc on the Florida panhandle before moving to Alabama and Tennessee. It was the ninth and the strongest of the abnormally active 1995 Atlantic hurricane season. This natural disaster caused $5.1 billion worth of damage. It dessipated on October 6, 1995.

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Hurricane Preparedness

It is very important to be prepared. Check your insurance coverage to ensure that it reflects the current state of your home. You may consider adding flood insurance and coverage for additional living expenses. Do a home inventory, so that it will be easy for you to file a claim in case of need.

It is always advisable to do everything to protect your property. Install hurricane shutters. Install head and foot bolts on doors. Install hurricane straps. They help hold the roof to the walls. Construct a safe room that can withstand flying debris and high winds.

Your emergency supply kit should have basic survival items. Have two week supply of water and non perishable food that is ready to eat. You also need to have a manual can opener, essential medicines, eye glasses, contact lens, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, clothing, paper towels, hand sanitizer, utensils, first aid kit, flashlight, radio, batteries, blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, mosquito repellent, coolers and plastic tarp.

Be ready with an evacuation plant. This will reduce stress at the time of disaster. Ensure that you have transportation arrangements. Have important papers like driving license, social security card, proof of residence like utility bills, insurance policies, birth certificate, marriage certificate, stocks, bond, wills, deeds, tax returns, personal checkbook and unpaid bills.

Preparation is the key to disaster management. It is very important to follow the guidelines laid down by the authorities. Avoid silly risks. That can cost your life and that of your loved ones. Appropriate planning helps you to protect your family, your home and other belongings.

10 Must-Have Supplies For a Hurricane

Sl No
Solar power
Waterproof containers
Can opener
Waterproof matches
First-aid kit

Hurricane season brings a humbling reminder that, despite our technologies, most of nature remains unpredictable.

— Diane Ackerman


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