As I write this commentary Hurricane Dorian is heading for the east coast of Florida – and I reside within that cone of possible landfalls. Several of the weather folks have alluded to climate change to explain the strength of Dorian – and the frequency of hurricanes in recent years.
This subtext is not based on historical records but on a biased political narrative that permeates most of the mainstream media – even the weather reports. In fact, the 12 most powerful and destructive hurricanes to hit mainland America were not in recent years.
The most destructive hurricane to make landfall on the east coast was a Category 4 monster that rammed into Miami, Florida in 1926. Weeks later, the Red Cross stated that 372 people had died and 6,000 were injured – although most historians believe the death toll was much higher. It produced sustained winds of more than 150-miles-per-hour and a 10-foot storm surge that washed over the outer banks and the shoreline. An unknown number of people were washed out to sea when they traveled to the beach as the calm eye came ashore – believing the hurricane had passed.
The second worse was another Category 4 that destroyed Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900 with an 18-foot storm surge (pictured above). It killed more than 6,000 of the town’s 37,000 resident – and is considered the deadliest in American history.
Reporting in the aftermath, meteorologist Isaac Cline wrote, “Sunday, September 9, 1900, revealed one of the most horrible sights that ever a civilized people looked upon. About three thousand homes, nearly half the residence portion of Galveston, had been completely swept out of existence.” Isaac lost his pregnant wife in the disaster.
The 2005 Katrina took third place in this record of dubious honor. It had landfalls in both Florida and then New Orleans as a Category 3. It ravaged Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama – killing 1,836 people in the four states. It was the first of the four hurricanes that made the deadly dozen – and they were not among the most powerful. Sandy was a Category 1 and Ike was a Category 2. Only one hurricane since 2000 – Harvey — was a Category 4 at landfall.
Destruction and death tolls from hurricanes have less to do with their power than where they make landfall – the more inhabited the area, the greater the death and destruction. That should be obvious.
The top twelve most destructive hurricanes are rounded out with:
- 1915 Texas and Louisiana – Category 4
- 1992 (Andrew) Florida and Louisiana – Category 5
- 2012 (Sandy) New York – Category 1
- 1944 Florida – Category 3
- 2017 (Harvey) Texas – Category 4
- 1938 Louisiana and New York – Category 3
- 1928 Florida, Georgia and South Carolina – Category 4
- 1960 (Donna) Florida, N. Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts – Category 3
- 2008 (Ike) Texas and Louisiana – Category 2
What seems noteworthy is that they are spread out fairly evenly over more than a century. Other analyses indicate that there is no uptick in the number of hurricanes or their power.
What the record does tell us is that claims that hurricanes are an indicator of global warming are dubious at best – and downright false, at worst.
That does not mean the earth is not warming – or that we should ignore it. That is not the point of this commentary. But no good purpose is served by making exaggerated and Draconian claims for political reasons. Already, many of Al Gore’s past predictions have proven to be wrong. Whatever the issues of climate change may be, I doubt we are on the verge of extinction within a decade or so – as the hysterical left contends.
With that comforting thought, I will now hunker down and hope to be continuing my commentaries after Dorian has done its best.
So, there ‘tis.