When determining the severity of a storm, there is a benchmark of deadly, destructive, and costly storms that are used for comparison. They all demonstrated the brute force of weather in the form of hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, and more. The following storms are some of the worst storms ever recorded in history, and they prove that we’re no match against the power of Mother Nature!
1935 Black Sunday
Could you imagine living through a dust storm that was so bad that you didn’t know if the sun was out or not? In 1935, 70+ mph winds kicked up walls of dust throughout the Great Plains. It’s estimated that 300 million tons of dust polluted the air. Power lines were knocked down and caused wildfires and hundreds of animals and livestock died from ingesting the dust.
1954 Hurricane Hazel
Hurricane Hazel’s dangerous path began in the Caribbean over warm waters. It struck Haiti and killed anywhere from 400 to 1000 people. The storm re-intensified and made its way to the eastern coat of the United States, where it strengthened to category 4 hurricane as it came ashore. With winds 130+ mph and storm surge as high as 10-15 feet, the storm caused major damage. Hurricane Hazel washed out 50 bridges and caused 257 deaths in the US and Canada alone.
1962 Columbus Day
This storm will always be remembered as “The Big Blow”. The Northwest experienced catastrophic damage and tens of people lost their lives during this once in a lifetime storm. It takes a very unlikely combination of ingredients in order for a storm of this size to make it to the Pacific Northwest like this one, which resulted in the Oregon, Washington, and Canadian coasts getting hit by 120-1338 mph winds. In terms of today’s money, it caused $2.2 billion in damage and killed almost 50 people. The Columbus Day storm of 1962 remains as the most powerful extra tropical cyclone to hit the United States west coast in the past century.
1974 Tornado Superoutbreak
This was the first tornado outbreak considered a “superoutbreak”. Unfortunately for the plains, this series of storms that formed in early April 1974 was a worst case scenario. Deadly twisters formed, 148 to be exact, across 13 states and Canada. Over the course of two days, 24 F4 tornadoes and 6 F5 tornadoes formed. 300 deaths resulted from the outbreak, as well as more than 5000 injuries.
1991 The Perfect Storm
This storm is referred to as a “perfect storm” because a tropical system and a non-tropical system came together and formed a massive storm that terrorized several countries. There was destructive flooding all throughout the Caribbean, United States, and Canada. Overall, it resulted in $200 million in damage across 9 states in the United States, and 12 deaths.
Throughout the southeast and Mid-Atlantic in March 1993, the most extreme non-tropical Gulf of Mexico cyclone development on record formed. A cluster of thunderstorms, 11 tornadoes, whiteout conditions, and extremely heavy winds impacted the US because of this storm. The impacts were felt from Cuba to Canada, hitting 26 US states in between. The total damage added up to $5.5 billion, and every east coast airport was closed at some point for this storm, which is the first time in history that happened.
This Derecho was of historic proportions. In June 2012, the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic states were hit by a derecho that formed along the edge of an extreme heat wave. Strong winds and torrential rain battered the area and millions lost power. 34 people died in the unbearable heat that followed the power outages, and the lashing winds caused 13 deaths. The strongest wind gust measured was 91 mph in Fort Wayne, IN.
2012 Superstorm Sandy
This storm started as classic late October hurricane, but because of a strong jet stream, soon combined with a nor’easter to create a massive and unstoppable force of nature. The storm measured 1000 miles across and although most storms like this exit east into the Atlantic, Sandy took an unusual turn that moved towards the coast. Storm surge from Sandy caused record flooding in New Jersey and New York City, and with winds extending 500 miles out from the center, it impacted states all the way to Wisconsin. In the end, there was $62 billion done in damage and at least 87 killed.
Did you experience or remember any of these catastrophic storms? Tell us in the comments below! Watch The Weather Channel’s Top 10 Ultimate Storms by checking your local listings.