Hurricane History Facts

••• NOAA

What was the deadliest hurricane of all time? The costliest? What state has taken the most direct hurricane hits? How often, on average, do major hurricanes hit the US? I've come up with some stats and facts that may surprise you. How's your hurricane knowledge?

What was the deadliest hurricane on record?

A 1900 hurricane slammed into Galveston, Texas killing 8,000 people. A category 4 hurricane, it struck the island with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.

With no radar, tracking, or predictions, there were no preparations made for the storm. The highest elevation in Galveston in 1900 was 8.7 feet; the 15.7 foot storm surge covered the homes and businesses like an ocean. It cost $20 million at the time; in today's money, the damage would have cost $700 million. After the hurricane, Galveston raised a sea wall and increased the grade of the island to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy.

What was the costliest hurricane on record?

As most of Florida will remember, the costliest hurricane of all time was Hurricane Andrew. Andrew struck in 1992 and devastated the Homestead and southern Miami-Dade areas with sustained winds of over 156 miles per hour. The estimated cost damage was $26.5 billion. After predicting for days that the storm was taking a northerly course, most people in Miami and Homestead were unprepared for the change in path that took in through the Homestead Air Force Base and the Country Walk area.

Post-Andrew construction had extremely different standards, including storm shutters being required when selling a new home.

What was the most intense hurricane to strike the US?

Over the Labor Day weekend in 1935, a hurricane struck the Florida Keys. With record-setting low barometric pressure of 892 mb, the tiny island of Islamorada had little chance of avoiding annihilation.

390 died in the event, as the Keys were not yet very populated. Roads, buildings, viaducts, bridges and the railroad were completely wiped out. The Labor Day Hurricane sustained winds are estimated to have reached almost 200 miles per hour.

How often do major hurricanes hit the US?

On average, two major hurricane (cat 3-5) strike every three years; in all categories, about five hurricanes make landfall every three years. On average, a hurricane cat 4 or higher only strikes once every six years. 2004 has been an anomaly.

What was the busiest hurricane season on record in the Atlantic?

In 1995, 11 hurricanes were recorded in the Atlantic. Named storms got all the way up to Hurricane Tanya. Allison, Dean, Erin, Gabrielle, Jerry, Opal, and Roxanne all made landfall in the US.

In the 20th century, how many hurricanes hit the US?

158 hurricanes hit the US from all categories; 64 of these were major hurricanes, categories 3-5. Florida had the most landfalls at 57, with the majority of these being in the northwest and southeast. Texas came in second with 36, and Louisiana and North Carolina tie for third at 25 a piece.

What is the busiest month in the US for major hurricane hits?

By far, September has it; 36 of the 64 major hurricanes hit in September.

The next busiest month the August, with only 15.