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Top 10 Most Devastating Hurricanes in History

The common types of disaster-causing weather phenomena along the coastlines are; Hurricanes, Tornadoes, thunderstorms, wind storms, avalanches, droughts and many more. Hurricanes are known to be the most fierce weather phenomenon. Hurricanes are described as massive storms caused when the wind in the ocean collides with warm water. Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are all the same type of weather phenomena. The only difference is the regions they occur and their intensity. Hurricane is a term commonly used in the Atlantic and North Pacific regions. Cyclone is widely used along the Indian Ocean and South Pacific regions. And lastly, a typhoon is used along the northwest Pacific to describe the disturbance.

Hurricanes consist of three major parts: the eye, eyewall and the rain bands. The eye is the central part of the disturbance. This part is characterized by weak winds and bright or fewer clouds in the sky. The eyewalls are the circular thunderstorms that surround the central part of the disturbance. They are characterized by clouds and heavy rains which contain thunderstorms and sometimes tornadoes. Unlike tornadoes which last a few minutes to hours, hurricanes can last for weeks to even months and stretch over a long distance recking devastating havoc and deaths of people offshore. Usually, the weather forecasters cannot predict when a tornado will form but they can measure its intensity and issue proper directives after the disturbance is formed.[1] Below are the top ten worst and deadliest hurricanes ever in history.

The Great Hurricane

This is the deadliest hurricane ever in history. It is also known as the worst to hit the Atlantic Ocean. This disturbance formed in the year October 9, 1780, and lasted up until October 20, 1780, when it dissipated. It is believed to have started at Cape Verde Islands in West Africa a place known to be the origin of many deadly hurricanes. The Great Hurricane caused massive destruction in Barbados at category 5 and moving at a fast speed of 320 km/hr. It stretched further to Martinique, Saint Lucia, and Saint Eustatius islands. These islands registered a large number of deaths. The Great Hurricane stretched further passing close to Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. It later settled at Atlantic Canada causing massive destruction. It killed more than 22,000 people during the entire active period. Also among the properties destroyed by this hurricane were the British ships which were swept away with soldiers on board never to be recovered.[2]

Hurricane Mitch

Mitch is the second fiercest hurricane in history. It started on October 22, 1998, as a tropical depression and slowly gained momentum. On 26 October the same year, it had increased massive strengths to a category 5 hurricane. A category 5 hurricane is known to be the strongest and bound to cause enormous destruction. The disturbance was traveling at a speed of 285 km/hr. It started in the Caribbean Sea and stretched towards Central America, curved towards the Bay of Campeche and finally settled at Florida as a huge storm causing massive destruction. Due to Mitch’s slow movement, it caused significant downpour causing catastrophic flooding in the mainlands. It is estimated that a total loss of over $2 billion was incurred and over 11,374 people died. The transportation sector and the agricultural sector were hit the hardest. Houses were destroyed, and crops were drained along with the mudslides.[3]

Hurricane Galveston

Hurricane Galveston is the fiercest tropical cyclone to hit the United States. This disastrous is famously known as the great storm of 1900. Its place of origin is not well documented due to lack of proper communication structures. However, it is believed that a ship that was located east of the Windward Islands made the first observation of the disturbance on August 27, 1900. It slowly gained momentum taking the west-northwest direction. On August 30, the storm was felt along the Caribbean Sea and traveled towards the Dominican Republic where it settled on September 2. Surprisingly the storm weakened as it passed through Hispaniola. On September 3, it was observed on the present day Santiago de Cuba province.

It wasn’t until the disturbance struck the Gulf of Mexico that it changed gears into a category 4 hurricane traveling at a speed of 230 km/hr. The fierce hurricane hit Jamaica Beach in Texas causing massive destruction on September 8. The disturbance later settled near Iceland. The areas hit by this storm the hardest included; Cuba, Jamaica, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Missouri, Ontario, and Saint Pierre. The impact of this hurricane was huge. Floods and landslides destroyed an estimated $1 million worth of crops. The overall cost of destruction caused by this catastrophic hurricane was estimated to be $35.4 million. This figure translates to $1066 million in modern-day US dollars. Hurricane Galveston is estimated to have caused between 6,000 and 12,000 deaths. Researchers and meteorologists believe that the disaster could have been averted if there were proper communication channels. Hurricane Galveston propelled the United States hurricane science to set up proper communication channels to curb such catastrophes in the future.[4]

Hurricane Maria

This is the latest and another major disaster-causing hurricane to happen in history. Hurricane Maria started along the west coast of Africa as a tropical wave on September 2017. It gradually changed from a tropical wave into a tropical depression as it entered Barbados. The warm weather and the presence of moisture and wind along Barbados brewed the tropical depression into a massive storm. The fierce Maria went from category 1 hurricane traveling at hundred and forty kilometers per hour to a mighty category 5 hurricanes going at the speed of 270 km/hr in 24 hours. That time practically was minuscule.

At category 5, Maria made a catastrophic land in Dominica on September 9, 2017. It later went through Puerto Rico hitting Yabucoa at a speed of 250 km/hr. Maria dissipated on October 2, 2017, on the open Atlantic. The places hit the hardest by hurricane Maria were; Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Haiti, Ireland, united kingdom, Turks and Caicos island, southeastern united states and mid-Atlantic states. Hurricane Maria killed three thousand and fifty-seven people and destroying properties worth $91.61 billion.[5]

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina is also another catastrophic disturbance to ever happen to level up the drylands it passed through. On August 23, 2005, Katrina formed in the Bahamas, when a tropical wave and a tropical depression collided. It picked up and headed towards Florida on August 25. On August 26, it was felt at the Gulf of Mexico where the warm water in the region brewed it into a category 5 hurricane in a snap of a finger. It headed towards Mississippi and Louisiana where it made landfall on August 29 as a category 3 hurricane. The strong winds caused significant destruction in Louisiana. The raging Katrina also caused massive flooding covering eighty percent of New Orleans, Louisiana with water.

It is estimated that one thousand five hundred and seventy-seven people lost their lives in Louisiana alone. Katrina also wrecked communication networks and transportation networks leaving the city in a total mess In general. Hurricane Katrina caused a total of one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six fatalities and a destruction cost estimated at $125 billion (2005 rate). Katrina is the most catastrophic hurricane to ever hit the United States after Okeechobee hurricane in 1928. The insurance firms had strongly felt the economic impact of Katrina. Private insurance had to pay an estimated cost of $41.1 billion in claims on various properties. While the national flood insurance was estimated at $16.3 billion.[6]

Labor Day Hurricane

This is also another catastrophic hurricane to hit the once mighty city of Key West. Formerly known as the Hurricane Three, The tropical storm launched on August 29, 1935, in the Turks Islands. It gradually gained momentum and strongly felt on the Andros Islands on September 1. It curved towards Florida and made landfall on September 2. Moving at a speed of 295 km/hr; the storm caused a colossal landfall in cedar key Florida, raging havoc on September 4, 1935. It later geared towards the North Atlantic Ocean as a weak storm and dissipated on September 10, 1935. Labor Day Hurricane is the most extreme tropical depression to hit the United States. Four hundred twenty-three people lost their lives to the hurricane and a destruction cost of $100 million which is equivalent to 1.7 billion in present-day dollars.[7][8]

Hurricane Gilbert

Hurricane Gilbert is also another severe tropical depression that raged havoc in 1998. Hurricane Gilbert started as a tropical cyclone in Barbados and steadily gained momentum into a category 5 hurricane moving at a speed of 295 km/hr. Gilbert swept through the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico lasting for almost nine days. The hurricane was strongly felt in Jamaica. The category 5 hurricanes leveled up the entire island causing over two hundred fatalities. It also rendered half a million Jamaicans homeless as buildings tumbled down due to the fierce wind. Gilbert did not stop at that; it went further towards the Gulf of Mexico and crushed a majority of hotels in Cancun. It also left more than 200,000 Mexicans homeless. In the total, the hurricane Gilbert killed three hundred and eighteen people and caused $2.98 billion in damages.[9][10]

Hurricane Camille

Hurricane Camille formed on August 14, 1969, and would become one of the fierce hurricanes ever. It started in Cuba. It gradually intensified as it passed through the Gulf of Mexico from category three hurricanes to a mighty category five hurricanes. It hit Louisiana as a category five tropical depression causing massive destruction. It later weakened by August 17 and would then pick up quickly and changed to a category five hurricane making a catastrophic landfall in Pass Christian, Mississippi. Moving at a speed of 280 km/hr, Camille caused 259 fatalities and an estimated destruction cost of $1.43 billion (1969) U.S dollars.[11]

Hurricane Sandy

Sandy is also another hurricane described as the deadliest Atlantic hurricane. Also known as the superstorm Sandy, this tropical cyclone formed on October 22, 2012, in the Caribbean Sea. It moved across the Greater Antilles as it gained momentum and on October 24 it hit Jamaica. It went through the Caribbean Sea as a category two hurricane and later on October 25 hit Cuba. Sandy quickly switched gears into a category one hurricane and crossed the Bahamas on October 26. Throughout its catastrophic journey, two hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives and properties worth $68.7 billion were destroyed.[12]

Hurricane Harvey

Harvey is one of the latest tropical depressions to rage havoc. It formed on August 17, 2017. Just like the other hurricanes that hit the United States, Harvey originated from Africa gained intensity and went through Barbados. Traveling at a speed of 215 km/hr at its highest, Harvey made a catastrophic landfall on San Jose Island. During its entire journey, the tropical depression caused sixty-eight direct fatalities and thirty-nine due to trauma. Also, an estimated $125 billion worth of property was lost.[13]

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