What Was the Worst Hurricane Ever?

The Great Hurricane of 1780 killed approximately 22,000 people when it struck several Caribbean islands, making it the worst on record. Although records from the time are poor, it is believed to have first made landfall on October 10 in Barbados before tearing through other islands in the eastern Caribbean.

Accurate measures of wind speed and rainfall are not available because of a lack of technology, but a person living in the area noted that the wind from the storm ripped bark off trees. This observation has led to speculation that winds may have reached speeds of over 200 mph. The populations of Barbados, St. Lucia and Martinique were all devastated by the storm. Great Britain and France also lost a number of soldiers aboard warships fighting the American Revolution when the storm hit.

More recently, Hurricane Mitch rivaled the destruction of The Great Hurricane of 1780. Mitch struck Honduras and Nicaragua in October 1998 and left around 11,000 people dead. Mitch dumped 4 inches of rain per hour for two days. This rainfall caused mudslides and flooding in both countries, and one mudslide in Nicaragua killed 2,000 people. Mitch caused $5 billion in damage to Honduras due to destroyed infrastructure and lost crops.