The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1, or two months from now. For many, especially those living along a coastline, this means beginning the season of preparing for the worst, watching the weather, and hoping that the storms skip over you this year.
Reflecting on the impacts of past storms can be useful when preparing for the new season to come. Therefore, here's a look at the five worst hurricanes in history, starting with the worst.
1. Galveston, Texas, 1900
This hurricane sets the record for the most casualties still to this day, with an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 deaths. This Category 4 storm hit the city of Galveston in September 1900, with winds over 135 miles-per-hour. The city wasn't as prepared as it should have been because unfortunately, the forecasters' predictions were wrong about where the storm was heading. Hurricane science was very new, to the point that they didn't even predict the storm would enter the Gulf of Mexico, but rather up in New England, per HISTORY.
2. Lake Okeechobee, Fl., 1928
In 1928, not that many people lived in Florida, and the area around Lake Okeechobee was filled with mostly farmers at the time. But in Galveston, Fl., residents were warned of the incoming Category 4 hurricane — they just weren't given an accurate time of arrival. After they had thought the storm had come and gone, they returned home only to soon be greeted by 140 mile-per-hour winds and water surges that wiped homes right out of the ground, resulting in an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 casualties, per Farmer's Almanac.
3. Hurricane Katrina, 2005
Hurricane Katrina, a name notorious in hurricane history, was a Category 3 storm that struck the Louisiana-Mississippi border in August 2005. The storm surge itself broke through the levees in New Orleans, leading to major flooding and at least 1,800 deaths. It remains today the costliest hurricane in history, estimating $108 billion in damages, per the National Weather Service.
4. Hurricane Audrey, 1957
Hurricane Audrey was a Category 3 storm that developed in the Gulf of Mexico, in June 1957, the first one in the area in over 12 years. The wind speeds reached 125 miles-per-hour and the storm spawned tornadoes that contributed to much of the damages in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. However, Louisiana was the hardest hit by the storm, with 400 deaths and an estimated $120 million in damages, Louisiana State University.
5. Florida Keys, 1935 (Labor Day Hurricane)
In September 1935, the first Category 5 storm on record arrived in the U.S., hitting the west coast of Florida. There were 485 deaths recorded, and over half of them were World War I veterans working on a federal relief project on the Overseas Highway. Although a train was sent to evacuate the veterans on the day of the storm, it wasn't able to reach all the camps in time, and an estimated 260 men were lost in the storm, per the Library of Congress.