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32 For the U.S., what are the 10 most intense, 10 costliest, and 10 highest death toll hurricanes on record?




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This article is from the Storms FAQ, by Chris Landsea landsea@aoml.noaa.gov with numerous contributions by others.

32 For the U.S., what are the 10 most intense, 10 costliest, and 10 highest death toll hurricanes on record?

Updated from Hebert et al. (1992):

10 Most Intense USA (continental) hurricanes from 1900-1994:
(at time of landfall with landfall area)
------------------------------------------------------------
HURRICANE                          YEAR    CATEGORY   CENTRAL PRESSURE
  
1.  "Labor Day" - FL Keys          1935       5            892 mb
2.  Camille - LA/MS                1969       5            909
3.  Andrew - SE FL                 1992       4            922
4.  Unnamed - FL Keys/S TX         1919       4            927
5.  Unnamed - Lake Okeechobee, FL  1928       4            929
6.  DONNA - FL Keys                1960       4            930
7.  Unnamed - Galveston, TX        1900       4            931
8.  Unnamed - Grand Isle, LA       1909       4            931
9.  Unnamed - New Orleans, LA      1915       4            931
10. Carla - C TX                   1961       4            931

Note that Hurricane Gilbert's estimated 888 mb lowest pressure in mid-
September 1988 is the most intense [as measured by lowest sea level
pressure] for the Atlantic basin, but it affected the USA only as a
weakening tropical depression (Neumann et al 1993).

10 Costliest USA (continental) hurricanes from 1900-1994:
(adjusted to 1990 dollars - except for Andrew)
---------------------------------------------------------
HURRICANE                          YEAR    CATEGORY   DAMAGE (USA)
  
1.  Andrew - SE FL/LA              1992       4      ~$30,000,000,000
2.  Hugo - SC                      1989       4         7,155,120,000
3.  Betsy - FL/LA                  1965       3         6,461,303,000
4.  Agnes - NE U.S.                1972       1         6,418,143,000
5.  Camille - LA/MS                1969       5         5,242,380,000
6.  Diane - NE U.S.                1955       1         4,199,645,000
7.  "New England"                  1938       3         3,593,853,000
8.  Frederic - AL/MS               1979       3         3,502,942,000
9.  Alicia - N TX                  1983       3         2,391,854,000
10. Carol - NE U.S.                1954       3         2,370,215,000

Note that this does not take into account the massive coastal population
increases and structural buildup that have occurred along the US East and
especially the Gulf coasts during the past few decades. Intense hurricanes
will continue to inflict massive destruction along the USA coastlines, even
with perfect forecasts of their track and intensity.

10 Deadliest USA (continental) hurricanes from 1900-1994:
---------------------------------------------------------
HURRICANE                          YEAR    CATEGORY   DEATHS
  
1.  Unnamed - Galveston, TX        1900       4        6000+
2.  Unnamed - Lake Okeechobee, FL  1928       4        1836+
3.  Unnamed - Fl Keys/S TX         1919       4     600-900 
4.  "New England"                  1938       3         600
5.  "Labor Day" - FL Keys          1935       5         408 
6.  Audrey - SW LA/N TX            1957       4         390
7.  Unnamed - NE U.S.              1944       3         390
8.  Unnamed - Grand Isle, LA       1909       4         350
9.  Unnamed - New Orleans, LA      1915       4         275
10. Unnamed - Galveston, TX        1915       4         275
  
+ (These values are estimate and may be conservative of the true
   numbers of fatalities.)
  
ADDENDUM:  Unnamed - LA    - 1893 - 2000
           Unnamed - SC/GA - 1893 - 1000-2000
           Unnamed - GA/SC - 1881 - 700

One can take some comfort in the fact that even with the massive damage
amounts reported with hurricanes in the last couple decades, none of those
hurricanes caused huge numbers of deaths in the USA. This is because of
the increasingly skillful forecasts of hurricane tracks, the ability to
communicate warnings to the public via radio and television, and the
infrastructure that allows for evacuations to proceed safely for those in
the hurricane's path (Sheets 1990). However, if people chose to ignore
warnings or if evacuations are not able to remove people from danger (because
of too many people overcrowding limited escape routes - the Florida Keys and
US 1 is a good example), then the potential remains for disasters similar to
what was seen decades ago.

 

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