The Worst Hurricanes in History

Hurricanes get considered the worst in history because of lives lost, and to a lesser extent property damaged.  Advances in meteorology mean that the death toll of even the most intense hurricanes is usually now far less than in the past. 

Warnings of hurricanes approaching can often be issued in enough time for evacuation. This is not always the case though and the second worst hurricane in history in terms of lives lost occurred as recently as 1998. 

On October the 29th,1998 Hurricane Mitch hit land, and ended up killing at least 11,000 people.  More than this are likely to have died as the number of people simply reported missing was almost as many.  When the hurricane hit Central America it reached wind speeds of up to 180 miles per hour.  Much of the devastation was not caused by wind though, but by rain.  

The resulting flooding took thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars of damage to property.  Worst hit were Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala but Hurricane Mitch caused death and damage in several other central and north American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States and Jamaica..

Even more recently and still appearing in the top twelve deadliest hurricanes was Hurricane Jeanne of 2004.  It resulted in over 3,000 deaths, mostly in Haiti but also hit hard were the Dominican Republic, the southern part of the United States and Puerto Rico.  Again flooding was the main reason for the lives lost. 

The deadliest hurricane in recorded history however occurred a long time before these two, tragic as they were.  The Great Hurricane of 1780 took the lives of at least 25,000 people.  Since it happened before data collection on hurricanes began we do not know either how strong it was or the exact path it took.  

We do know that it passed over the islands of Barbados, killing thousands of people on several islands.  Ironically it occurred in the middle of the American revolution and many deaths were of those on British and French ships fighting for control.  They didn’t need to kill each other, the hurricane did that for them. 

Other terrible hurricanes in both recent and not so recent history include the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Hurricane Fifi in 1974, the 1930 Dominican Republic Hurricane and Hurricane Flora in 1963.  The worst hurricanes of all time were not always the strongest.  Much depended on their path and whether people were prepared to be hit or not.  Hurricane Mitch and others have shown us that deadly hurricanes, tragically, are not yet a thing of the past.