Top Ten Hurricanes of All Time
When we hear about hurricanes, we tend to think of the more recent ones that have affected us. We have mental images of torn up buildings, flipped cars, and a sense of loss for the hurricane victims. The definition of hurricane is easily understood: a tropical cyclone with high wind speeds of more than 74 miles per hour. Flooding, high speed wind, tornadoes and torrential downpours are to be expected. To kick off our list of top hurricanes, let’s take a look at number 10 on our list.
10. Hurricane Hugo, Guadeloupe; South Carolina; Puerto Rico; and more – 1989
Hugo was on the Category 5 scale, so was very destructive. It struck in September’s Atlantic Hurricane season of 1989, killing 82 people and making 56,000 people homeless. It caused $10 billion in damages, and up to that point, it was the most damaging hurricane ever. Hugo was out-done by hurricane Andrew only three years later. Destroying many houses, this ranks #10 because it’s fascinating that it claimed minimal lives, yet caused the most damage ever up until that point in time.
9. Galveston, Texas, USA – September, 1900
Galveston was known as the biggest Texan city and a trade capital. It is located by the Gulf of Mexico. With a population of 42,000 in 1900, it was growing rapidly with trade opportunities. As September rolled around, a hurricane did too - a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane Scale. The hurricane claimed approximately 8,000 to 12,000 lives.
Names for the storm: Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the Great Galveston Hurricane, the Galveston Flood.
8. Orissa Cyclone, India – September, 1999
Known as the deadliest tropical cyclone of the Indian Ocean, and the deadliest Indian storm since 1971, this was the second storm to hit within weeks of another Category 4 storm. A tropical depression was formed on October 25th, and by October 28th it was at a peak of 160 mile per hour winds, and hit India the day after. It claimed over 10,000 lives. Seven hundred bodies were cremated, as well as 3,500 cattle carcasses. After the storm, many more people died due to starvation: the Indian government refused to use national emergency relief money because according to them, it was not a national disaster.
The estimated damage cost $4.5 billion USD in 1999, equivalent to $5.6 billion in 2007. Names for the storm: The Orissa Cyclone, Cyclone 05B
7. Hurricane Mitch, the Atlantic – October, 1998
One of the most deadly hurricanes of the Atlantic, Hurricane Mitch formed in the western Caribbean Sea on October 22, ascending into a Category 5 Storm. It ran through Honduras, then through Central America, and finally nailed Florida as a strong tropical storm. When the storm went through Honduras and Nicaragua, it dropped historic amounts of rain, measuring 75 inches of rain. Floods caused deaths, thus making this the second-deadliest storm to ever hit the Atlantic. It fizzled around Great Britain. Mitch caused an approximate 10 to 12 thousand deaths from Central America to Florida, and 8,000 missing near the end of 1998. Mitch also caused over $5 billion worth of damage.
6. Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana, USA – 2005
Katrina was a very memorable event for many Americans today. As one of the costliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, it was on record as the sixth strongest Atlantic hurricane ever. Katrina was the eleventh tropical storm, the third major hurricane, and the second Category 5 hurricane. Formed over the Bahamas in August, it crossed southern Florida as a small hurricane, causing few deaths and flooding, but gaining much strength over the Gulf of Mexico. The federal flood protection system in Louisiana failed in over 50 locations, and New Orleans was 80% flooded. A death toll estimated at least 1,830 people lost their lives in the storm and in the flood and there was $81.2 billion dollars worth of damage. Chaos ensued: looting and violence in the streets due to lack of police, with many reports of theft, carjacking, rape, and murder making headline news. Law and order were soon restored with aid of the National Guard.
5. Hurricane Wilma, Mexico; Cuba; Florida – 1933
Hurricane Wilma was, without a doubt, the most effective and intense hurricane recorded in the Atlantic. It was a Category 5 Hurricane. Wilma caused multiple landfalls, destroying all the way from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, to Cuba, and finishing at Florida. There were 63 deaths reported, and a $29.1 billion price tag.
Category 5 hurricane
4. Hurricane Linda, Socorro Island – 1997
Linda was a tropical cyclone that occurred in the Pacific during 1997’s hurricane season. It was the Pacific’s strongest hurricane, with winds up to 185 mph. It rolled over mostly water, but it did pass over Socorro Island as a Category 5 hurricane. Damage was worth up to $3.2 million, which is not a lot – but considering it only hit one island, it could have been made much worse passing over other lands.
Hurricane Linda near peak intensity
3. Hurricane Ioke, Wake Island, Japan, Alaska – 2006
Hurricane Ioke occurred in August 2006, and was recorded to be the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Central Pacific. Winds were estimated reaching over 100 mph, damaging trees on Wake Island, totaling $88 million in damages. There were many roofs ripped off, and damaged buildings too. In Alaska, beach erosion occurred due to the extratropical remnants of Ioke. This hurricane was a category 5.
Hurricane Ioke on August 24
2. Hurricane Thelma, Philippines – 1991
Also known in the Philippines as Uring, this hurricane was the deadliest storm of the Pacific in 1991’s typhoon season. It claimed over 6,000 lives as it tore through the Philippines. Tens of thousands of people were left homeless in the aftermath; Ormoc City was the most impacted. An interesting fact about this hurricane was that afterwards, the names ‘Thelma’ and ‘Pagasa’ were retired, meaning that they cannot be used in the future.
Tropical Storm Thelma nearing the Phil on Nov 4
1. The Bhola Cyclone, Pakistan – 1970
The Bhola cyclone was a disastrous hurricane that struck the east of Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh) and India’s west Bengal. It was the top most deadly hurricane of all time of the tropics, and also the most deadly natural disaster of all time. The storm claimed up to 500,000 lives from flooding due to storm surges. The storm formed over the Bay of Bengal on Nov. 8, travelling north, and only getting stronger. Peak winds were recorded at 115mph. On Nov. 12, it landed on the coast of east Pakistan. Bhola took out crops, vegetation. The death toll being outrageously high was a very frightening thing to think about. The government responded by sending the army, rescue teams of medical personnel and supplies to the ravaged parts of the country; however, the government’s response was being criticized with comments like “utter indifference”, and “gross neglect”.
The Bhola cyclone on November 11, 1970
India was the first to help Pakistan, and even though the two countries had poor relations, India funded $1.3 million to support them. USA helped out with $10 million to provide additional relief, as well as donating blankets, tents – and the use of 6 helicopters. About 200,000 tons of wheat were shipped and by the end of November, there were 38 helicopters working in the disaster area.
No matter what conflicts men have among themselves, it’s nature that can wage the most destruction. These hurricanes are only a few examples of Nature’s wrath.