Hurricanes are inevitable every year, but it often seems like they’re becoming deadlier with each passing season. On average, the world sees nearly 50 of these storms per year. Not all of them are devastating, but the ones that are will make the news and let you know just how much damage they caused. Here are the top 6 deadliest hurricanes ever recorded.

Unfortunately, this trend of severe hurricanes will likely continue due to climate change unless action is taken.

Top 6 Most Devastating and Deadliest Hurricanes

Hurricanes are scary, and new storms make the “most devastating” list every year. Storm surge flooding often leads to billions in damage and accompanies major hurricanes to create even more damage. It’s hard to determine just how much destruction a hurricane can leave behind in terms of emotional and financial damage, but these are the ones that stand out as the deadliest in history.

1. The Great Hurricane of 1780 [Over 20,000 lives]

Great Hurricane of 1780 - the deadliest hurricane ever recorded
The Great Hurricane of 1780, also known as Huracán San Calixto, the Great Hurricane of the Antilles, and the 1780 Disaster, is the deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. Between 20,000 and 22,000 people died throughout the Lesser Antilles when the storm passed through them from October 10-16. Image:

The Great Hurricane of 1780 is one of the worst ever recorded, claiming over 20,000 lives. Because it happened so long ago, not much is known about the massive storm. However, we do have oral records and research into this storm that devastated the Lesser Antilles.

It hit the eastern Caribbean in October 1780, damaging property and taking lives. While it doesn’t have much documentation, everyone can agree that a storm of this caliber is terrifying and not something people want to see replicated today.

2. Hurricane Mitch (1998) [Over 11,000 lives]

Hurricane Mitch was a symmetrical storm that boasted strong-force winds far from its epicenter, causing devastation in its general area. It made landfall in northern Honduras in October, late in the hurricane season, which may have been why it was so alarming and unexpected. It rapidly strengthened to peak at Category 5 status, the highest possible rating on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

This storm is still one of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded and caused widespread flooding. It caused over 11,000 fatalities in Central America (more than 7,000 in Honduras and 3,800 in Nicaragua), making it the second-deadliest hurricane on record.

In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch became one of the deadliest hurricanes in history. Here’s an inside look at the monstrous storm.

3. Hurricane Fifi (1974) [Over 8,000 lives]

It’s hard to believe that Hurricane Fifi started as just a wave off the coast of Africa. By the time it reached Haiti, Fifi had become a tropical depression, but just days later, it would reach its maximum power.

Many countries felt the fallout from Hurricane Fifi’s destruction, but Honduras was hit the hardest. Thousands of people were killed in just one town and most of the food supply was ruined. Overall, Hurricane Fifi claimed the lives of 8,000 victims and left a legacy no one would forget.

4. Galveston Hurricane (1900) [Over 6,000 lives]

1900 Galveston hurricane, the deadliest hurricane in US history
1900 Galveston hurricane, the deadliest hurricane in US history.

The Great Galveston Hurricane was a Category 4 storm, with winds of up to 145 mph (233 km/h), which made landfall on September 8, 1900, in Galveston, Texas, in the United States, leaving about 6,000 to 12,000 dead. It was the deadliest hurricane in US history.

5. Hurricane Maria (2017) [Over 3,000 lives]

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico the strongest. It’s considered the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in the 21st century, with many folks still recovering from what was lost years ago.

This hurricane caused thousands of deaths, both directly and indirectly. The official count included those lost to the storm and those who died in the aftermath, unable to receive medical treatment or safe water. Hurricane Maria made many places reflect on how they would handle a hurricane and proved that emergency precautions are needed sooner rather than later in the wake of a terrifying storm.

Video: Island of Puerto Rico was “destroyed” by Hurricane Maria, the deadliest hurricane in the 21st century.

6. Hurricane Katrina (2005) [Over 1,800 lives]

View of flooded New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes in the 21st century
View of flooded New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes in the 21st century. Photo by Commander Mark Moran, of the NOAA Aviation Weather Center, and Lt. Phil Eastman and Lt. Dave Demers, of the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center, all commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps, flew more than 100 hours surveying Katrina’s devastation. Photo Source:, Public Domain, Link

Hurricane Katrina was only a tropical storm as it passed through the Caribbean. It only became a true hurricane when it reached the United States, leaving New Orleans devastated. Plenty of people evacuated from the area, but the storm left behind water that posed several health risks to the inhabitants of New Orleans.

Many New Orleans residents found themselves without homes when they returned, and it wasn’t just because of the damage. The stagnant water had made many homes a welcome environment for mold that could jeopardize human health. Over time, recovery efforts were underway, and clean water and food washed away much of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Why Are Hurricanes Worse Recently?

Hurricanes have become more frequent in recent years. They’ve also become more dangerous, and you often hear of at least one every season that has caused massive damage somewhere in the United States, along the Caribbean, or elsewhere. These dangerous storms are growing deadlier due to climate change and human interference.

The effects of climate change mean the world will see more frequent and dangerous hurricanes than in the past. The oceans are warming up, and each hurricane will be made of more powerful winds and rainfall since they grow stronger in warmer weather. Storm surges can also happen when the water of any kind rises above its usual levels.

Unfortunately, human interference caused by climate change has warmed the oceans beyond the surface. The actions of people are making these storms worse, and while there may not be a way to improve things, they can at least try to mitigate some of the damage caused by the storms. Corporations and households should reduce their carbon footprints to aid in stopping climate change in its tracks.

You should be aware of storm surges in your area and understand their dangers. Know that hurricanes may sometimes create tornadoes, so you should act cautiously in any situation, even when it seems safe outside. Educating others on the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning is also crucial – they may try to take risks they shouldn’t because they don’t know better.

Prepare for Hurricanes in Advance

If you watch the patterns of storms closely, you’ll know hurricanes are growing more dangerous over time. Whether they take human lives or cause billions of dollars in property damage, these storms cannot be taken lightly.

You can prepare ahead of the storm, but evacuating is the best course of action when something seems too severe. Your things aren’t worth your life. Over time, maybe humanity can repair the damage it’s done and hope for less deadly hurricanes.

Evelyn Long

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