These storms were destructive and deadly, and won’t be forgotten anytime soon. As the eastern United States braces for Hurricane Matthew— one of the worst since category 5 Hurricane Felix in 2007— we look back on some of the worst hurricanes in history.
25. Rita (2005)
Rita hit the states of Texas, Florida and Louisiana, and caused over $11 billion in damages. Winds reached a peak of 180mph, which resulted in a category 5 listing. However, as Rita neared landfall, it was reduced to a category 3 hurricane. While winds slowed to 120mph, Rita only intensified the damages caused by Hurricane Katrina a month earlier. It’s estimated 97- 125 people died because of this storm.
24. Katrina (2005)
Katrina was one of the deadliest storms to hit the United States, as well as the costliest natural disaster. It caused over $108 billion in damages, with New Orleans and parts of Louisiana still rebuilding even today. An estimated 1,200-1,800 people died as a result in this massive storm that affected the Bahamas, South Florida, Cuba, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle.
23. Camille (1969)
Hurricane Camille was one of the deadliest storms to hit the United States. While we will never know the exact wind speed, the storm was compact and focused on a thin strip of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Over 140 people died during Camille, with another 113 deaths being contributed to flooding from the storm’s remnants.
22. Ivan (2004)
Hurricane Ivan touched down in Florida and Alabama, which caused over $15 billion in property damages. Twenty-five people in these states also lost their lives during the storm.
21. Frances (2004)
Frances ravaged parts of Florida over several day. The storm brought high winds and rain, which caused almost $10 billion in damages. It was ranked as a category 4 hurricane that resulted in seven fatalities.
20. Charley (2004)
Hurricane Charley brought gusts up to 105mph to parts of Florida and South Carolina. Ten people died as a result of the powerful storm, and the estimated cost of damage was around $15 billion, making it the second-costliest hurricane in US history at the time.
19. Andrew (1992)
While Hurricane Andrew was technically a smaller storm, it was listed as a category 5. It hit south Florida before making its way to south-central Louisiana, where it was classified as a category 3. Andrew wasn’t the most costly storm in US history, but it did cause over $26 billion in damages with at least 127,000 homes being hit.
18. Ike (2008)
Hurricane Ike took the Texas coast by storm in 2008. It caused $25 billion in damages and was to blame for 195 deaths— 74 of which were in Haiti and seven in Cuba.
17. Wilma (2005)
Hurricane Wilma made her way across Florida, hitting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Five people lost their lives as a result in Florida, while four people died in Mexico, and 14 in the Caribbean. This storm caused about $21 billion in damages as people returned to their destroyed homes.
16. Sandy (2012)
Superstorm Sandy brought massive flooding and strong winds to New Jersey and New York in 2014. However, the storm affected 24 states from Maine and Florida to Michigan and Wisconsin. Seventy-two people died as a result, with 41 of the deaths being contributed to the flooding. In New York, subways, streets and tunnels were inundated under flood water. Over 8.5 million people in the Northeast were also without power as Sandy made her way up the coast. This resulted in $65 billion in damage, and made Sandy the second costliest hurricane in history over Hurricane Charley.
15. Hugo (1989)
Areas in North and South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio were impacted by this 1989 storm. It’s estimated 107 people died while over $10 billion in damages were reported. Hugo brought 135mph winds and left over 100,000 people without homes.
14. Agnes (1972)
While only listed as a category 1 hurricane, Agnes caused $3 billion in damages and was responsible for at least 100 deaths. After hitting the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba, Agnes moved on to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.
13. Betsy (1965)
Listed as a category 4 hurricane, Betsy caused over $1 billion in damage and resulted in at least 80 deaths. The storm brought 155mph to Florida and the Gulf Coast.
12. Irene (1999)
This category 2 hurricane hit with 110mph and resulted in flooding across Florida. Despite its lower rating, Irene caused $800 million in damages, and claimed three lives directly and 15 indirectly.
11. Audrey (1957)
Another one of the most deadly storms, Audrey claimed at least 400 lives. Listed as a category 3 hurricane with winds measured at 125mph, Audrey only resulted in $417 million of damage.
10. Great Galveston Hurricane (1900)
The Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was the deadliest storm with at least 8,000 deaths contributed to it. Some even estimate as many as 12,000 people perished as a result of this storm. This category 4 storm hit the Texas coast with wind speeds up to 145mph.
9. Okeechobee (1928)
The second deadliest storm after the Great Galveston Hurricane, the Okeechobee Hurricane resulted in 2,500-3,000 people losing their lives in Florida.
8. Labor Day Hurricane (1935)
The “Labor Day” Hurricane of 1935 had wind speeds measured at 161mph— making it the third top hurricane with highest wind speed. It was listed as a category 5, and resulted in over 400 deaths and $6 million in damages.
7. Indianola (1886)
The Indianola Hurricane is ranked number four for highest wind speed. This 1886 storm hit Texas with winds reaching 155mph.
6. Patricia (2015)
This 2015 hurricane hit Central America, Mexico, and Texas with winds recorded up to 215mph. Fortunately, this category 5 storm only caused $460 million in damage, but eight people lost their lives due to Patricia.
5. Gilbert (1988)
This hurricane started in the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Central America, and Jamaica (pictured) before moving to Mexico and the US. Gilbert was a category 5 that struck Texas, the south central United States, and the Great Lakes region. It went all the way up to Western Canada. This massive storm saw winds reach 185mph, which resulted in over 300 fatalities, and caused over $7 billion in damages.
4. Mitch (1998)
Hurricane Mitch completely ravaged the country of Honduras in 1998. The category 5 storm dumped up to four inches of rain an hour over the course of two days, causing mudslides and extreme flooding. At least 11,000 deaths were attributed to Mitch, and $5 billion in infrastructure and crop damages. Nicaragua also was hit hard by Mitch, reportedly losing 2,000 people in one single mudslide.
3. Elena (1985)
Listed as a category 3, Hurricane Elena hit Cuba before traveling to the southern United States. Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi were all hit by this 1985 storm. Elena deviated from the predicted path, causing massive evacuations. At least nine people died as a result, and over $1 billion was reported in damages.
2. Hazel (1954)
This photo shows the complete destruction of Carolina Beach after Hurricane Hazel hit. It was classified a category 3 storm with winds reaching 130mph in the eastern United States. Between 500 and 1,200 people lost their lives due to the hurricane, and over $380 million in damages.