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- Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November 30.
- The six deadliest hurricanes in US history each claimed more than 1,000 lives.
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June 1 marked the start of hurricane season, the six-month period in which strong storms form in warm tropical waters.
At the start of each hurricane season, researchers make predictions about how many severe storms the US is likely see and how strong they might be. This year is expected to be fairly normal, with four to eight hurricanes (defined as a storm with wind speeds of of 74 mph or higher), two to four of which could be category 3 or above (meaning wind speeds of at least 111 mph).
Hopefully, none of these will be on par with the most destructive storms in US history. Here’s what to know about the six deadliest hurricanes the country has ever experienced.
Cheniere Caminada hurricane: October, 1893
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The Cheniere Caminada hurricane struck the Louisiana coast in early October, 1893. (Researchers had not yet started naming hurricanes at that time.) The category 4 storm claimed the lives of between 1,100 and 1,400 people, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Cheniere Caminada is located about 100 miles south of New Orleans.
Sea Islands hurricane: August, 1893
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In 1893 – the same year as the Cheniere Caminada hurricane – a category 3 storm swept through the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. The hurricane’s impact was felt primarily in the Sea Islands, a group of more than 100 islands near the coastlines of South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida. It’s not known exactly how many people passed away due to the hurricane, but the NWS estimates the death toll to be between 1,000 to 2,000 people.
Hurricane Katrina: August, 2005
Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana and Florida on August 29, 2005. In New Orleans, crucial levees broke, causing an estimated 80% of the city to be inundated. More than 1,800 people perished as a result of the storm across the Gulf Coast.
Okeechobee hurricane: September, 1928
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The Great Okeechobee Hurricane made landfall in Florida on September 26, 1928. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the storm killed between 2,500 and 3,000 people, but an official, exact death toll wasn’t recorded.
Hurricane Maria: September, 2017
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Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a category 5 storm on September 20, 2017. The official death count was initially reported to be 64. However, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July 2018 suggested there might have been as many as 4,645 excess deaths due to the storm in 2017. In the end, researchers from George Washington University found that the hurricane was responsible for 2,975 deaths. Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, accepted those findings and updated the official count.
Galveston hurricane: September, 1900
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The Great Galveston Storm, as it’s known, remains the deadliest storm in US history. The hurricane struck the Texas city on September 8, 1900 as a category 4 storm. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, wind speeds topped out at over 135 miles per hour, and there were storm surges of 15 feet. It’s estimated that between 6,000 and 12,000 people lost their lives.