Hurricane followers hope that Matthew is low on the list
Before we talk about the “Top Ten Deadliest Hurricanes in Florida’s history,” people up and down the east coast of the Sunshine State recall another storm that hit Miami in 1992.
The most recent Category 4 storm was Hurricane Andrew, it made a direct hit on Florida rolling into the Miami area at the time Andrew was the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. Andrew wrecked more property than legendary Hurricanes, Hugo, Agnes and Betsy combined, with damages estimated at $25 billion and killing thirty people.
Andrew was a small but ferocious storm that began its destruction by ripping through the Bahamas with 150 mph winds on Aug. 23, killing three people. The next day, Andrew crashed into Dade Country, flattening houses, toppling palm trees, and leaving thousands of residents homeless and panic-stricken.
But that was far from the only powerful hurricane to take aim on the Sunshine State. According to the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 40 percent of all hurricanes in America strike Florida.
Although hurricanes strike Florida with alarming regularity, some cause less destruction than others. For Florida, most residents don’t feel the wrath of the super storms like Andrew. But there is always a chance that the big one will finally hit.
If we were to rank them there are ten hurricanes that can be considered killer storms. Here are the ones that are the most powerful and deadly of the storms to hit the state over the years. According to Miami attorney and hurricane expert Andrew Winston, these are the ten most deadly storms to hit the state.
- Key West – Key West was hit on September 10, 1919 with a storm that left more than 800 dead.
- Miami – In 1926, one of the most destructive hurricanes in history struck Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Hallandale, and Dania. It left between 325 and 800 dead and caused more property damage than any previous hurricane.
- Okeechobee – The 125 mph winds did not cause quite so much damage to the residents of Palm Beach when it struck on September 16, 1928. However, 40 miles away, Lake Okeechobee flooded and the dikes broke, causing a major flood that killed at least 2,000 people.
- The Florida Keys Labor Day – In 1935, a Category 5 storm stuck on Labor Day, killing 408 people. Witnesses reported that the wind was so strong that blowing sand literally shredded the clothes from their bodies.
- Hurricane Donna – This 1960 storm still holds the record for sustaining hurricane force winds through Florida, the Mid-Atlantic, and New England. It caused 13-foot surges in the Keys and 11-foot surges along the southwest coast.
- Hurricane Cleo – In 1964, Cleo struck the Miami area, cutting power and causing at least 24 separate fires. It destroyed one quarter of the grapefruit crop, delayed the opening of Florida Atlantic University, and caused the Fort Lauderdale News to miss publication for the only time in its history.
- Hurricane Andrew – This 1992 storm is the second costliest storm in U.S. history. It killed 23 people and caused $25 billion in damages.
- Hurricane Charley – When this Category 4 storm struck in 2004, this hurricane was the strongest to hit Florida since the legendary Hurricane Andrew. Meteorologists originally thought it would strike Tampa, but instead it hit Northwest Florida near Port Charlotte, catching many residents off guard. The hurricane killed 10 people and caused $13 billion in damage across the state.
- Hurricane Frances – Just three weeks after Charley, Frances ripped through the state. Though it caused much less damage than its predecessor, Frances was legendary for its size – it covered the entire state.
- Hurricane Wilma – The most recent of the major hurricanes struck in 2005, causing $16.8 billion in damages. The storm particularly impacted Broward and Palm Beach Counties and did significant damage to the Broward County Courthouse, the School Board Building, and taller downtown office buildings.
It remains to be seen if Hurricane Matthew will make the list, but at the moment it seems likely that it will. Let’s hope that it ranks at the lower end of the list and not near the top.
Video courtesy of our Livestream partners WPTV and WFLX TV in West Palm Beach