The first hurricane experience ever recorded was in 1494 by Christopher Columbus. Written records continued through the years. Some of the most thorough records were kept by Benjamin Franklin, who was seen as one of the first meteorologists. The first meteorological recorded storm was in 1871 near the Flordia Keys and tracked its course as it traveled west towards Texas. Since then these storms have been documented and studied as they damage cities and states.
Over the past 500 years, serious storms have come and gone, leaving their marks on towns and in history. Of all the storms, three have made an irreversible mark in history. These storms will forever be remembered for the heartache and pain they delivered that took years to repair, and in some areas the wounds are still trying to be healed. Below I have listed in ascending order the three most destructive hurricanes in today’s present history of the United States.
3.) Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike struck Cuba and the United States in 2008. It made landfall as a category 4 hurricane in Holguin Province, Cuba, on the evening of September 7, 2008. It made a second landfall as a category 1 hurricane in Pinar del Rio and then exited to the Gulf on the evening of September 9. Over the next two days Ike remained in the Gulf, maintaining a course towards Galveston and Houston, Texas, as it grew in strength. As the storm approached Texas it regained form, further strengthening and making landfall at San Leon Texas with winds over 275 mph. On September 13 the storm began to weaken as it turned northeast towards Dallas and Little Rock, Arkansas. Ike had now become a tropical storm. The tropical storm then merged with a cold front on September 14, creating strong winds and heavy rains as the storm made its way into Canada before exiting into the Atlantic.
The intensity of the storm caused Texas to close numerous chemical plants causing increased prices in gas and oil. Southern Louisiana, which had already suffered damage from hurricane Gustav, was flooded again by the storm surges proceeding Ike’s landfall. Ike was the costliest storm to date for Cuba due to all the damage caused.
2.) Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew is the 2nd most powerful hurricane to make landfall in the United States in the 20th century. It was the first hurricane of the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season. Andrew made landfall on August 24 around 5:00 pm in southern Florida at category 4 strength. The storm traveled back into the Gulf where it further intensified as it turned towards southern Louisiana. On August 26 Andrew made landfall in Louisiana, tearing its way up the state with wind speeds that, because they were so strong, weather instruments were torn apart under the storm’s ferocious power. Overall, Hurricane Andrew caused an estimated $40.7 billion in damages.
1.) Hurricane Katrina
While Katrina was only the sixth strongest storm to ever hit the US and one of the five top deadliest storms, it was by far the most costly storm we have experienced to date. Katrina first hit Florida as it crossed over into the gulf. While in the gulf, the storm gained amazing strength before its second landfall on August 29 in south Louisiana as a category 3 storm.
The impact of this storm has changed Louisiana’s landscape forever. After laying a devastating path over south Louisiana, the hurricane flooded the southern cities, breaking the levee causing all of New Orleans to be flooded with billions of gallons of water. Katrina made its third landfall in Biloxi, Mississippi, devastating the beaches. Despite the massive property damage done by the storm it was the horrendous loss of life that added to the shock and awe of this storm. To date, New Orleans, Louisiana, is still trying to recover from this storm which caused an estimated $81.2 billion in damages. Much of the areas and homes destroyed by this storm are still uninhabitable, showing how devastating this storm was.
If anything, Katrina and the others have taught us how fragile life and our homes are, how preparation cannot be ignored nor neglected when living in areas these storms affect. Life is precious and these forces of nature are not to be reckoned with.