Over the years there have been some serious hurricanes in and around the US and while many have passed off relatively quietly there have been some which have caused massive damage to property, life and society in many areas which they have crossed. We hereby list the top 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic and the damage which they have done during their short lives.
While Hurricane Katrina was only the sixth strongest hurricane ever to hit the US and one of the five deadliest of all time it has been the most expensive hurricane there has ever been. Katrina began life over the Bahamas on 23 August 2005, crossing Florida as a fairly low level category one hurricane before picking up amazing strength through the Gulf of Mexico. As is the way with many hurricanes, Katrina seemed to weaken over the sea before its second landfall on 29 August in south-eastern Louisiana changed the landscape forever.
The hurricane caused major distress, damage and loss of life across Florida and Texas but was New Orleans, Louisiana which bore the brunt of this massive hurricane. The flood protection system around New Orleans failed dramatically and the region was buried under millions of gallons of water. The storm caused massive damage to property but it was the loss of life in the region which was most shocking.
Even now three years later New Orleans is still paying the price of hurricane Katrina with storm damage estimated to be the region of $81.2 billion. The fact that so many homes are still uninhabitable is testament to the massive damage which hurricane Katrina caused in the area.
Hurricane Andrew is the second most powerful hurricane to land in the US in the 20th century. Even though hurricane Andrew was the first of the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season the power was in full view as it moved over the Northwestern Bahamas, to Florida and Southwest Louisiana. In hurricane ratings, hurricane Andrew was one of very few category five hurricane is to hit the US and as such many were caught offguard by the force and sheer power of this natural phenomenon.
Such was the ferocity of Andrew that many areas of landfall were unable to measure the speed of the winds as equipment and measuring facilities were literally torn apart. In South Florida there were some readings with an eight minute period measuring an average speed of 142 mph although it did manage to peak at a massive 169 mph. Initial indications were of a storm surge in the region of 10 to 14 feet and 5 to 8 inches of rain but when hurricane Andrew touchdown these estimations were woefully inaccurate.
As the storm passed over the Bahamas it was a category five hurricane with winds in the region of 180 mph and a massive 23 feet storm surge was recorded. This resulted was massive flooding in the area, deaths and damage which ran into hundreds of millions of dollars. Overall hurricane Andrew caused damage estimated at $40.7 billion.
Hurricane Ike hit the US in 2008 and was estimated to have caused $31.5 billion worth damage on its path of deadly destruction. Not only was hurricane Ike classified as the third most destructive hurricane in the history of the US it was actually the third major hurricane of the 2008 season. At its worst point winds reached 145 miles an hour and the diameter of the associated tropical storm was 550 miles with the hurricane force winds evident over a 240 mile diameter area.
While hurricane Ike caused nearly 200 deaths in the area around Haiti and Baytown, Texas it had been measured as a category three hurricane over the sea with the potential to go higher before landfall. However, fortunately by the time hurricane Ike touchdown in Baytown, Texas it had fallen to a category two although devastation and loss of life were still evident. The hurricane itself inflicted damage on areas such as Cuba, Texas, Florida and Louisiana to name but a few. Rainfall was immense as the winds whipped up devastating low-pressure storms and while most of the rainfall fell over the ocean, hurricane Ike still goes down as the third most destructive hurricane in US history.
Hurricane Wilma was the epitome of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season in which there were over 20 storms, 13 hurricanes, 6 major hurricanes and 4 category five hurricanes. Damage from hurricane Wilma was estimated in the region of $29.1 billion with the peninsula of Mexico, Cuba and Florida being hit hardest by the storm. As well as the massive damage to property there were over 60 deaths and hurricane Wilma is in the top four bracket of the most destructive hurricanes of all time.
Wilma actually start life as a fairly lightweight storm around 220 miles east south-east of Grand Cayman however during a 30 hour period over the waters of the Caribbean the storm was cranked up by a mixture of differing temperate over the sea. At the height of the hurricane, winds were recorded in the region of 185 mph as hurricane Wilma literally ripped up everything in its path. There were a number of periods whereby the hurricane dropped markedly in strength but strong winds and varying temperatures allowed the hurricane refuelled and head back over the Gulf of Mexico.
The power of hurricanes
While the hurricane season around the US and South America is well defined there has been, and continues to be, a corridor which seems to attract the worst attention of the more powerful storms. When you consider that the top four Atlantic hurricanes of all time have caused in excess of $180 billion worth of damage this starts to bring home some of the consequences of owning property in the infamous region.
Insurance is impossible to obtain in some areas, government assistance is required in others and the risks associated with property in the area of the corridor are substantial. The fact that cities such as New Orleans in Louisiana are still feel the impact three years after hurricane Katrina is a reflection of the devastation and total destruction these natural phenomenon’s can bring.