5 Deadliest Atlantic Hurricanes

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean runs from June through November. It’s half the year when giant storms sweep along the coast with high winds and heavy rainfall. As someone who’s grown up in the desert, fearing a hurricane wasn’t a thought until I saw the damage Katrina caused. The Category 5 storm destroyed New Orleans, flooding the levees and altering the course of the city’s history. 

As climate change worsens, so does hurricane season. Every year there are more tornados, wildfires, hurricanes, and blizzards. Each extreme weather even presents a genuine threat, causing millions of dollars in damage and potentially costing thousands of lives. 

5 Deadliest Atlantic Hurricanes

Great Hurricane of 1780

Category 5: 22,000 to 27,500 dead

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash

The deadliest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded had 200 miles per hour winds whipping around its interior. It made landfall in Barbados before moving across the Lesser Antilles Islands. The storm took place during the Revolutionary war when the British had control of the Atlantic.

The storm devastated the islands in its path and severely damaged the British Navy from Cuba to New York. They lost over 20 ships, including crews, to the storm. 


Mitch, 1998

Category 5: 11,000 to 19,000 dead

Photo by Siednji Leon on Unsplash

Mitch was powerful and slow-moving, causing flooding and devastation to infrastructure throughout Central America. In Honduras, where most of the fatalities occurred, the storm set back development a half-century by destroying homes and causing severe flooding. After meandering through Nicaragua and Guatemala, the hurricane crossed the Gulf of Mexico and traversed Florida.

While 11 thousand died during the storm, thousands more were missing, and millions throughout Central America were homeless.


Fifi-Orlene, 1974

Category 2: 8,210

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Fifi started just south of Jamaica and made landfall in Belize. It was nearly 300 miles across and with winds up to 105 miles per hour. The storm affected nine countries as it crossed Central America, but did the most significant devastation in Honduras. After three days of constant rainfall, flooding killed between two and five thousand people in a single town.

After two days, Fifi entered the Pacific Ocean, where it was renamed Orlene before moving up the coast of Mexico. 


Flora, 1963

Category 4: 7,193 deaths

Photo by Michael Dam on Unsplash

Flora swooped into the Caribbean from 800 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. It crossed the island of Tobago just after attaining hurricane status. From October 3rd to the 9th, Flora crossed Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas. The interior of the storm contained 145 miles per hour gusts of wind.

Five feet of rain fell in Jamaica, causing landslides and destroying homes. 


Galveston, 1900

Category 4: 8,000 to 12,000 deaths

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The Great Galveston hurricane stayed a weak tropical storm through the Caribbean until it reached the Gulf of Mexico. The winds inside the hurricane reached 145 miles per hour as it made landfall at Galveston.

It strengthened as it moved across the Midwest of the US, crossing New England and Canada before re-entering the Atlantic at the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Witnesses in Iceland spotted its final throes.