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The Deadliest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1492-1996


  1. Introduction
  2. Tropical Cyclone Terminology
  3. Casualty Information
  4. Storm Lists and Statistics
  5. Conclusions
  6. Acknowledgements and References
  7. Appendix 1: Cyclones with 25+ deaths
  8. Appendix 2: Cyclones that may have 25+ deaths
  9. Notes to the Appendices
  10. References to the Appendices

Notes to the Appendices

a Conventional abbreviations were used for map headings (e.g., N for north or northern) and for American states. In addition, we employed C for central and the following: BAH--Bahamas, BAR--Barbados, BEL--Belize, BER--Bermuda, CAN--Canada, CI--Cayman Islands, COL--Colombia, CR--Costa Rica, CU--Cuba, DOM--Dominica, DR--Dominican Republic, GRE--Grenada, GUA--Guadeloupe, HAI--Haiti, HON--Honduras, JAM--Jamaica, MAR--Martinique, MON--Montserrat, MX--Mexico, NIC--Nicaragua, PR--Puerto Rico, STB--St. Bartholemy, STE--St. Eustatius, STK--St. Kitts, STT--ST. Thomas, STV--St. Vincent, TUR--Turks Islands, US--United States, VEN--Venezuela, VI--Virgin Islands.

b This range comes from references CN+AF+BB+I+BL. For first entry Salivia (1970) has both 300 and 312 for Puerto Rico and we used the latter. Most references cite Red Cross statistics of 1836 deaths and 1870 injuries in Florida. An additional reference (AC) with 1870 deaths in Florida may be in error. Flament and Martin, and Soulan (1994) have 1200 deaths for Guadeloupe. Monthly Weather Review adds 18 for Grand Turk and indicates others possible in Caribbean. Soulan (1994) adds 3 for Martinique. Snow (1952) has 1500-2500 deaths. Douglas (1958) has 600 in Guadeloupe, 300 in Puerto Rico, and "no one will ever know how many more than the estimated 1,800 to 2,500 died there."

c tropical cyclone status in doubt for at least part of event

d Alexander (1902) notes "17 sail with 2000 troops...only two were ever heard of afterwards". Other references indicate that additional ships may have survived.

e 13 ships carried 1500 people; 10 ships sank

f Chapman notes "many lives were lost in New England." Alexander (1902) indicates only 1 person survived from the loss of an 18-cannon ship. Marx (1983) notes that "most of the town of Caravel (Martinique), along with the majority of the inhabitants, was swept into the sea" in September; this month may be in error, also disagreeing with the dates in The Miami Herald. Millas (1968) presents several reports on effects in the Caribbean region.

g 18 people missing (according to National Hurricane Center Preliminary Report on Joan)

h The London Timesreported the loss of 28 of 42 slaves, with additional loss of some crew on board the Bristol. Lloyd's List indicates only 10 men saved during a period when slaves were sometimes not included in the statistics. In addition, Lloyd's List indicates "Three vessels, from Africa with slaves, are loft in the West Indies, in the late Hurricane."

i There are many estimates of the total. This one, based on the "official" summary in Galveston in 1900 (Ousley 1900), is: 6000 in city of Galveston, 1000-1200 elsewhere on the island west of the city and more than 1000 on the mainland. Maximum estimates provided are 10000-12000. Monthly Weather Review indicates "Enormous loss of life...inland", as well. Most other references indicate a loss of at least 6000.

j "The loss of life occasioned by the storm in Galveston and elsewhere on the southern coast cannot be less than 12,000 lives..." Statement of Governor Sayres on 19 Sep 1900 printed in Lester (1900).

k 17 in Texas according to Monthly Weather Review; Hasling (1982) notes 38 deaths in Texas (some may be related to storm remnant)

l 53 in North Carolina according to Dunn and Miller (1964), Stevenson (1989), and Barnes (1995). Mon. Wea. Rev. reported "a large number of small craft were lost; in nearly all cases all hands perished" in Dominican Republic, and "great loss of life along the Exuma Cays"; Garriott (1900) indicates deaths in Dominica.

m Garriott (1900) and Alexander (1902) indicate thousands of additional deaths in Puerto Rico due to subsequent starvation. Stick (1952) and Chapman indicate at least 50 deaths in shipwrecks along coastal Carolina. Barnes (1995) has at least 30 along the coast of North Carolina and 14 inland in that state.

n Millas (1968) disputes accounts giving date as 25 October and deaths as more than 1000.

o 40 in South Texas according to Hebert et al. (1993) and Price (1956).

p The Miami Herald indicates at least 55 deaths on the 7th. The National Hurricane Center track begins at 0000 UTC on the 7th.

q Snow (1952) has 150 deaths at Indianola with the remainder elsewhere in Texas. However, "bastantes vidas perdidas" (quite a few lives lost) in Cuba according to Appendix of Gutierrez-Lanza in Sarasola (1928)

r in addition, "algunas perdidas de vidas" (some loss of life) in Cuba according to Appendix of Gutierrez-Lanza in Sarasola (1928); steamship Magnolia foundered off Hatteras"CF

s numerous estimates provide (sub)totals yielding a similar statistic

t may not include 5 in Anguilla mentioned explicitly by Salivia (1970) or at least some of 23 deaths in Leeward Islands noted in Weather Bureau Preliminary Report

u Monthly Weather Review of 1909: "In 1906 many hundreds of laborers were drowned..."

v Evans (1848) writes of more than 70 other deaths that year but does not relate them to a specific storm

w Seon has upwards of 1000 deaths in Jamaica, while Evans (1848) and Millas (1968) indicate 300 deaths there. Ludlum (1963) account has 200 in Savanna-La-Mar and "several white people and some hundreds of negroes the whole parish."

x The Miami Herald also reported more than 400 people missing in the Bahamas.

y total based on The London Times report that "many seamen and white people drowned, with some hundreds of negroes." Alexander (1902), Garriott (1900), and Evans (1848) have 28 October as date.

z some early storms that qualified in more than one locale may have multiple listings if the storm track is unknown.

aa 26 deaths from ship Maisi; in addition, "...numerous disasters were caused by it at sea...", according to Monthly Weather Review, possibly including 16 deaths in loss of schooner Maine. The New York Times reported one survivor of English brig Gamay (possibly foundered in same storm) picked up on 9 Oct in southwestern Atlantic.

ab "Hundreds said to be killed in a severe hurricane..." (Seon)

ac This total may come from two storms. According to the 3 November 1852 The London Times, "In Puerto Rico, heavy thunderstorms and hurricanes had been experienced, and over 100 lives were lost." Salivia (1970) indicates hurricanes on 5 and 22 (or 26) September and that the first "ocasiono muchas muertes" (occasioned many deaths).

ad Cayman Islands National Archive documents indicate 101 or 102 deaths of islanders, excluding their residents lost on Cuba. Other references have smaller totals for the Cayman group.

ae Tannehill (1938) indicates that this cyclone may have originated in the Pacific.

af Clark (1988) has 2150. Reference BC has 2000.

ag Reid (1841) reprints report that two hurricanes occurred in Santo Domingo in 1837, in some combination causing 3 drownings, plus "three Haytian vessels were also on the coast, and only one man saved."

ah References AG and AW have 1477 deaths.

ai Marx (1983) indicates that, in combination, the storms of 12 and 26-27 September 1600 caused about 1000 deaths.

aj Marx (1983) is not specific about date.

ak Marx (1983) is probably describing the same storm when indicating no survivors of 4 wrecks resulting from "a hurricane between Serrana and Serranilla banks" in 1605.

al Marx (1981), which has many of the same accounts as Marx (1983), refers to this storm as a "norther".

am Month not specified by Robinson (1848). Douglas (1958) indicates early November.

an Hunter hypothesizes that most of the settlers of Roanoke Island were killed by a hurricane. He indicates that of about 116 people on the island in 1587, some returned to England before the storm and a few of the settlers survived the storm.

ao Snow (1952) does not specify dates of month.

ap According to Snow (1952), "On October 9, 1913 the immigrant ship Volturno, with 657 people aboard, burst into flames in a wild gale at sea halfway across the Atlantic....135 were lost." Neumann et al. (1993)--see References in Text--show a hurricane over the central Atlantic on that date.

aq Snow (1952) says at least 2000 deaths.

ar Snow (1952) has 20 August. The dates in several of his accounts conflict with dates of other sources.

as According to Snow (1952), "scores of lives were lost and seventy-five vessels were either sent to the bottom or dismasted." Also, a "brig was lost"Q,CF. The brig Albermarle was lost off HatterasAV,CI. This event possibly related to "Two men overboard" from Henry Horbeck in "hurricane" at 38N 56W on 13 Sep.BM

at Ellms (1860) locates the disaster at 48 33'N 43 20'W, placing in doubt the tropical character of the storm. Lloyd's List (Oct 1782), however, has accounts of storm from the Jamaica Fleet at 43N 48W, and at 43N 44W. At the latter location, " a Gale of Wind from ESE...on the 16th in the Evening, when on the Morning of the 17th the Wind came out in an Inftant to N.W....the storm lafting for two hours." A very similar account from an officer on the Ramilies at 42.3N and 48.9W is reprinted in Redfield (1836).

au Reported in Lloyd's List on 10 Nov 1758. Possibly related to its later report of "hard Gale of Wind" which drove ashore and destroyed some vessels at Barbados on 23 August.

av Millas (1968) indicates that two hurricanes affected this area about the same time. If so, then the number of casualties associated with each is uncertain, e.g., Lloyd's List contains the report, "The Apollo, Manning, was totally lost at St. Kitts, in the late hurricane, and every foul on board, except one man drowned."

aw Lloyd's List has many accounts indicating a great many more than 500 deaths near Newfoundland. Some of the losses occurred on the northwest coast of Newfoundland and on the coast of Labrador. Hence, the total may be larger than shown by Ludlum (1963), but the storm may not have been entirely tropical, either. The dates from these sources do not match and the relationship between this entry and the other Sep 1775 storm(s) along the U. S. east coast and the storm reportedly at Hispaniola on the last days of August is not clear. See footnote ax.

ax Added to casualties noted in North Carolina is a Lloyd's List report of losses to ship crews off Virginia. They also indicate a ship lost off North Carolina. Dates for effects on North Carolina and Virginia may not be consistent. This is further confused by activity in the northwest Atlantic a few days later. See footnote aw.

ay Lloyd's List of 3 Dec 1779 contains the account "The Spitfire Privateer, Captain White, foundered in a Gale of Wind, and all the Crew, in Number 120, perished."

az Price (1956) has 51 deaths on 6-7 Sep., when the system was still a tropical cyclone. Monthly Weather Review, however, indicates at least 215 deaths from floods, all which came after the cyclone dissipated (and were associated with remnants of the cyclone).

ba Loss of some crew members on Somerset in "easterly storm (of) unusual fury." May be related to a 28-31 October system over Cuba.

bb Other subtotals based in part on Garriott (1900) give smaller total.

bc Based on 21 December 1994 Report No. 7 from the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs, estimating 1122 deaths in Haiti. Earlier reports vary considerably from this figure.

bd Tebeau (1975) places this loss of a Spanish fleet in 1528.

be Severity disputed by Millas (1968).

bf Peterson (1975), Douglas (1958), and Marx 91983) have similar descriptions of what may be just one event.

bg might be Julian date

bh Douglas (1958) notes a loss of 3000 people in a 1791 hurricane but gives August as the month ans no location is provided.

bi Douglas (1958) wrote , "An incredible fourteen in '87 hit, it seems, everywhere in the Atlantic, the Islands, Cuba, Yucatan, and Brownsville, Texas. There were ten in '88, two in Texas, two off Florida, one devastatingly great that wiped out Turks Island and Great Inagua. For all his warning service, Father Vines was unable to prevent over one thousand deaths."

bj Mon. Wea. Rev. indicates 600 homes destroyed, but no lives lost.

bk subsequent search indicated 24.

Next: References to the Appendices