Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons all describe a similarly destructive reality. Terminology aside, each has made its mark on homes and history. Here is a list recounting the 10 worst hurricanes.
- Bhola Cyclone
Death Toll: Estimated 300,000-500,000
Although Bangladesh is prone to several cyclones in a season, the area was ultimately unprepared for a storm of this magnitude. The regions most affected were rural and had poor communication systems making storm warnings nearly impossible. Since the storm, warning and evacuation systems have been improved, saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
- Haiphong Typhoon
Death Toll: 300,000
The storm devastated the region of Haiphong, Vietnam near the Gulf of Tonkin, a major seaport, halting the Vietnamese economy. Rice fields flooded with waters accumulating 9-12 feet.
- Typhoon Nina
China and Taiwan, 1975
Death Toll: 171,000
Flooding inundated the Banqiao dam that had been constructed only 20 years prior. The flooding from storm surge and rainfall continued through the region as a result of the dam failure. An estimated 26,000 people died from flooding, 145,000 from epidemics, famine and water contamination. Government agencies examined the failure and began rebuilding 61 damaged dams after the storm to better prepare for the future.
- The Great Hurricane
Death Toll: 22,000
The Great Hurricane occurred during the American revolution and many European Naval forces were lost as they were stationed in the Caribbean. Eyewitnesses claimed the winds were able to carry large cannons hundreds of feet and stone buildings were blown down.
- Galveston Hurricane
Galveston, TX, 1900
Death Toll: 12,000
The Galveston Hurricane was the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, killing 12,000 people, at least 8,000 as a direct result of storm surge. Although Galveston has never been restored as the thriving port it once was, the devastation there prompted interest in updating storm prediction technologies. Soon after the diaster, Galveston built its seawall spanning 10 miles of coastline to protect the city from future storms.
- Hurricane Katrina
Gulf Coast U.S., New Orleans, 2005
Death Toll: 1,200
Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a category four hurricane causing catastrophic damage even before the levees broke protecting the lowest areas of the city. After the levees broke, flood waters submerged nearly 80 percent of the city. The Alabama and Mississippi gulf coast was also inundated with a 27-foot storm surge. Canada and Mexico deployed troops to bring supplies and help with rescue and evacuation efforts. The city has since rebuilt the levees and is currently in the process of improving drainage and sewer systems to accommodate greater flooding.
- Labor Day Hurricane
Florida Keys, 1935
Death Toll: 500
Sometimes called the “Storm of the Century,” this was the first category five hurricane to hit the United States in the twentieth century. Residents thought it would miss Florida and make landfall in Cuba. Hundreds of World War I veterans had traveled to the keys as part of a work program during the Great Depression were caught in the storm by the time vans had been sent to save them. The Hurricane Warning Center had only been established in Jacksonville that year and was not prepared for how quickly the storm escalated.
- Hurricane Ike
Cuba and Texas Gulf coast, 2008
Death Toll: 103
Estimates suggest that Ike is the second costliest storm to hit the United States after Hurricane Katrina as of 2009. Storm surge reached approximately 10 feet on Galveston Island. Although Ike was only category 2 when it made landfall in Texas, it had grown so drastically in diameter covering 425 miles northwest to southeast.
- Hurricane Harvey
Southeast Texas, 2017
Death Toll: 70
The National Hurricane Center originally forecasted the storm to make landfall as a category 1 but it quickly strengthened to category 4. Victims are still recovering and in need of aid.
- Hurricane Andrew
The Bahamas and Florida, 1992
Death Toll: 55
Hurricane Andrew ranks as the third costliest natural disaster in U.S. history after hurricanes Ike and Katrina and the last on the list of 10 Worst Hurricanes. There is controversy surrounding the exact statistics of Hurricane Andrew as there were several anomometer failures resulting in partial or absent data recordings. FEMA also reported that many damaged buildings had been improperly constructed.
History has shown that it is difficult to fully predict whether coming storms will outdo the 10 worst hurricanes. This hurricane season has been one of the most active since the string of storms that accompanied Hurricane Katrina in the 2005 season. Hurricane Irma has already devastated the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, parts of Cuba and Florida. There is no measurement to express the true loss resulting from these storms but there is hope in rebirth.
– Rebekah Korn