15 Worst Hurricanes of All Time

hurricane harvey flooded suburban houston homes

Residential neighborhoods near Interstate 10 in Houston, Texas, sit in floodwater on Aug. 29 2017, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Marcus Yam/LA Times/Getty Images

After traveling through the Gulf of Mexico in late August 2017, Hurricane Harvey arrived in the United States as a Category 4 storm. At the time it was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States in a decade, after 2005’s Hurricane Wilma. The arrival of Harvey coincided with its peak intensity: winds of 130 miles per hour (215 kilometers per hour). Coastal communities in Texas like Corpus Christi and Galveston were hard-hit, but the most striking damage was in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country.

Flooding in Houston was severe, as Harvey remained over the area for days, dumping up to 50 inches (127 centimeters) of water in certain locations. That’s the same amount of rainfall Houston usually sees in an entire year, all deposited in a four-day span, and the area’s ecosystem and manmade environment were both overwhelmed. The storm also affected communities like Beaumont, Texas, where the entire city was cut off from fresh drinking water. Then-FEMA director Brock Long called Harvey “probably the worst disaster the state’s seen.”


More than 13,000 people required rescuing throughout Texas, and an overall 30,000 people from that state were displaced by floodwaters. And while Texas was hardest-hit, the storm also affected communities in Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee and beyond. Damage estimates were around $121 billion, making it the fourth-most expensive hurricane in U.S. history.

Harvey claimed at least 82 lives in Texas. Officials say that number includes those who died as a direct result of the storm, drowning in flash floods or on roads.

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