In the 2000 Farmers’ Almanac, we listed the 100 most memorable weather events of the past 100 years. The list included tornadoes, blizzards, floods, droughts, and, of course, hurricanes. With two powerful hurricanes (Harvey and Irma) in less than 2 weeks making U.S. landfall, we thought we’d take a look back at 13 hurricanes that wreaked havoc on the U.S. during the 20th century.
1900 September 8 – The Great Hurricane Wave at Galveston Texas – A severe hurricane tide inundated this island city with up to 15 feet of water; over 6,000 perished; 3,600 houses were destroyed; damage estimates at $30 million.
1926 September 18 – The Great Miami (FL) Hurricane – The eye passed over the city with a pressure of 27.61”; winds to 123 m.p.h. for five minutes, 138 mph for two minutes; tide of 11.7 feet; 372 killed.
1928 September 16 – San Felipe Hurricane – Started in Puerto Rico, then moved west, struck the Palm Beach, FL, area; pressure of 27.43”; enormous damage; floods at Lake Okeechobee, FL; 1,836 people drowned, 1,870 injured.
1935 September 2 – Labor Day Hurricane, Florida Keys – A small, extremely intense center produced the lowest U.S. pressure of 26.35”; tide of 15 feet; 408 lives lost, many were World War I veterans in CCC camp.
1938 September 21 – The Great Long Island/New England Hurricane – Crossed Bellport, Long Island, NY (Barometric pressure of 27.94”); made second landfall near Milford, CT, then tracked west of New Haven, up the Connecticut Valley through Massachusetts and Vermont. Blue Hill, MA, had wind gusts to 186 mph; massive forest blowdown; widespread floods; extreme coastal destruction; record tide inundated Providence, RI; up to 650 fatalities; damage near $400 million.
1944 September 14-15 – The Great Atlantic Hurricane – Swept Cape Hatteras, NC, with a central pressure of 27.97”; sideswiped New Jersey and Long Island, NY, crossed from Point Judith, RI, to South Weymouth, MA; Cape Cod, MA, suffered severely; 390 people lost at sea.
1961 September 11 – Hurricane Carla* – Battered central Texas coast; 17.62” rainfall; 45 deaths; $300 million damage.
1969 August 17 – Hurricane Camille – Made landfall on Mississippi coast, “severest ever to strike a populated area in the US”; winds of 200 miles per hour; ranked a 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale; tide 24 feet; caused 144 deaths and nearly $1.3 billion in damage; later floods in Virginia drowned 113 more people.
1970 August 3 – Hurricane Celia – Struck the Corpus Christi, Texas, area; “the most damaging ever on the Texas coast,” with 11 deaths and a $454 million loss.
1972 June 22 – Hurricane Agnes – The most costly weather disaster in the United States to that date: dropped 12” of rain across Pennsylvania and New York; Wilkes-Barre, PA, on the Susquehanna River was the principal sufferer; $2.1 billion loss; 122 victims.
1979 September 12 – Hurricane Frederic* – Smashed into Mobile Bay, AL, area with 132 m.p.h. sustained winds; $2.3 billion damage.
1989 September 21-22 – Hurricane Hugo – Packing winds of 135 mph. the center of this storm hit Charleston, South Carolina. High tides and torrential rains soaked the barrier islands and the coast; 24 died. Congress approved $1.1 billion in emergency aid.
1992 August 24-25 Hurricane Andrew – Among the worst of natural disasters ever to strike the U.S. The city of Homestead, FL, and the Homestead Air Force Base were virtually leveled by winds of 165 mph. In Florida, the storm claimed 30 lives, destroyed or damaged 85,000 homes, and left 250,000 people homeless; damage was estimated at $20 billion. Andrew also struck the Louisiana coast with 140 mph winds.
*According to NOAA, in 1953, the United States began using female names for storms. The practice of naming hurricanes solely after women came to an end in 1978 when men’s and women’s names were included in the Eastern North Pacific storm lists. In 1979, male and female names were included in lists for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.