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Geography of Intense United States Hurricanes

List of the Ten Most Intense Hurricanes to Hit the United States


Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico, August 2005

Updated August 29, 2010

A hurricane is one of the largest and most intense storms that can take place on planet Earth. They occur around 40 to 50 times each year around the world but the main places they hit are the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Central Pacific as well as the Eastern Pacific. The former experiences hurricane season from June 1 to November 30, while the latter's season is from May 15 to November 30.

Some of the world's strongest hurricanes have been those that have hit the United States via the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Massive storms like 2005's Hurricane Katrina have killed and displaced thousands of people. In addition, these major hurricanes have also had large monetary costs as they have destroyed millions of dollars worth of homes, buildings and other infrastructure.

The following is a list of the top ten most intense hurricanes to hit the U.S. A hurricane's intensity is based on its overall barometric pressure, so large and deadly storms such as the one that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900 may not fall on the list. For reference, the city or region, year the hurricane hit, their Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scales at landfall (based on windspeed), damage costs and death tolls have also all been included where available.

1) Florida Keys Hurricane

  • Category: 5
  • Location: Florida Keys
  • Year: 1935
  • Cost: unknown
  • Death Toll: 408

2) Hurricane Camille

  • Category: 5
  • Location: Mississippi, Louisiana and Virginia
  • Year: 1969
  • Cost: $1.42 billion
  • Death Toll: 259

3) Hurricane Katrina

  • Category: 3
  • Location: Louisiana and Mississippi
  • Year: 2005
  • Cost: $96 billion
  • Death Toll: 1,800

Note: The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale uses maximum sustained wind speeds to determine a hurricane's category. Katrina had lower sustained wind speeds than other strong hurricanes but its intensity was higher than others of a higher Saffir-Simpson category because it had lower barometric pressure.

4) Hurricane Andrew

  • Category: 5
  • Location: Florida and Louisiana
  • Year 1992
  • Cost: $26.5 billion
  • Death Toll: 26

5) Indianola, Texas

  • Category: 4
  • Location: Indianola, Texas
  • Year: 1886
  • Cost: $200,000
  • Death Toll: Over 74

6) Florida Keys and Texas

  • Category: 4
  • Location: Florida Keys and Texas
  • Year: 1919
  • Cost: Unknown
  • Death Toll: 600

7) Lake Okeechobee, Florida

  • Category: 4
  • Location: Lake Okeechobee, Florida
  • Year: 1928
  • Cost: $25 million
  • Death Toll: 2,500

8) Hurricane Donna

  • Category: 4
  • Location: Florida and parts of the Eastern U.S.
  • Year: 1960
  • Cost: $900 million
  • Death Toll: 364

9) Hurricane Carla

  • Category: 4
  • Location: Texas
  • Year: 1961
  • Cost: $325 million
  • Death Toll: 43

10) Hurricane Hugo

  • Category: 4
  • Location: South Carolina
  • Year: 1989
  • Cost: $10 billion
  • Death Toll: 56

Note: Two other hurricanes, one in 1915 in New Orleans, Louisana (death toll: 275) and another in 1856 in Last Island Louisiana were also very intense hurricanes to hit the U.S. and are tied with 9th and 10th place, respectively.


Infoplease.com. (2007). Most Intense Hurricanes in the United States - Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0778121.html#axzz0xgZbfuJM

Rosenberg, Matt. (14 June 2010). Hurricane - Overview of Hurricanes, About.com. Retrieved from: http://geography.about.com/cs/hurricanes/a/hurricane.htm

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