10 tormentas locas a lo largo de la historia

It seems like almost every hurricane or snowstorm is labeled by the media as the «storm of the century,» although they rarely meet that standard. Which is good, of course. But some weather phenomena throughout history are truly in the running to become the deadliest, most intense, or most destructive storms ever to hit humanity. Let’s take a look at just a few.

10. The Perfect Storm

Also known as The Nameless Storm and the Halloween Blizzard, the 1991 Perfect Storm originated as a nor’easter off the Atlantic coast of Canada on October 28. This formidable storm absorbed Hurricane Grace and reached its peak intensity as a massive cyclone. It struck the east coast of the United States with high waves and coastal flooding before turning southwest and weakening. As it transitioned into a subtropical cyclone and then a tropical storm, it exited the mid-Atlantic states and intensified into a hurricane on November 1. Despite becoming a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, it remained unnamed to avoid confusion with its predecessor extratropical storm.

The Perfect Storm ultimately caused damages of over $200 million. Thirteen lives were lost, notably six aboard the Andrea Gail, whose sinking inspired the book and film The Perfect Storm. The storm’s impact, particularly devastating along the coastline from Nova Scotia to Florida and southeast to Puerto Rico, included waves up to 30 feet high. In Massachusetts, over 100 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, surpassing the damage caused by Hurricane Bob just two months prior.

9. The Tri-State Tornado Outbreak

On March 18, 1925, the United States experienced the deadliest tornado outbreak in its history, marked by at least twelve significant tornadoes that tore through the Midwest and South in a matter of hours. The outbreak claimed at least 751 lives and left approximately 2,300 injured. The massive epicenter included Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, with additional tornadoes touching down in Alabama and Kansas on the same day.

One particular tornado, the Tri-State Tornado, became the deadliest tornado in U.S. history and the second deadliest worldwide. By tracing a 219-mile path across southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and southwestern Indiana, it holds the record for the longest track ever recorded. While some meteorological analysis suggests that the exceptional length of its path could be attributed to multiple tornadoes within a tornado family rather than a continuous single tornado, experts largely recognize the three-state tornado as a singular and devastating F5 giant.

8. The 1999 Odisha Cyclone

The 1999 Odisha Cyclone was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the northern Indian Ocean and one of the most devastating in the region. Originating as a tropical depression in the Andaman Sea on October 25, it rapidly evolved from a convection area in the Sulu Sea four days prior. Driven by highly favorable conditions, it escalated to super cyclonic storm intensity on October 28, peaking the following day with winds of 260 kilometers per hour (160 miles per hour). It made landfall the following day and caused immense damage.

While the primary impact was concentrated in India, the outskirts of the super cyclone affected Myanmar and Bangladesh, resulting in 10 and 2 deaths, respectively. Odisha, which was already recovering from a severe cyclone less than two weeks prior, bore the brunt of the storm, enduring high storm surges, strong winds, and heavy rainfall. The surge, combined with torrential rains, caused widespread flooding that damaged 1.6 million homes. The agricultural sector suffered significant losses affecting crops such as sugarcane, rice, and other winter crops. The death toll, initially estimated at 30,000, was later officially reported by the Government of India as 9,887, with over 8,000 deaths in Jagatsinghpur alone.

7. Tip Typhoon

Typhoon Tip, known as Typhoon Warling in the Philippines, holds the distinction of being the largest and most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded. Tip rapidly intensified in early October 1979, reaching its maximum sustained winds of 305 kilometers per hour (190 miles per hour) and establishing a record worldwide minimum sea-level pressure on October 12. At its peak, Tip became the largest tropical cyclone ever recorded, with a wind diameter of 2,220 kilometers (1,380 miles). As it gradually weakened, Tip changed its course toward the west-northwest and then northeast, influenced by an approaching trough. The typhoon made landfall in southern Japan on October 19 and shortly after became an extratropical cyclone, dissipating near the Aleutian Islands on October 24.

The U.S. Air Force conducted 60 weather reconnaissance missions in Tip, making it one of the most closely observed tropical cyclones. Fortunately, Tip was not the deadliest storm of all time, but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying.

6. The Bhola Cyclone

The 1970 Bhola Cyclone, also known as the Great Cyclone of 1970, is one of the most devastating tropical cyclones in history and battered Eastern Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Bengal in India on November 12, 1970. To this day, it is the deadliest tropical cyclone and resulting storm surge ever recorded and remains one of the deadliest humanitarian disasters in the world, claiming at least 300,000 lives, and estimates suggest the death toll could reach half a million.

The cyclone, which formed over the central Bay of Bengal on November 8, intensified as it moved northward and ultimately reached peak winds of 185 kilometers per hour (115 miles per hour). The following afternoon, it made landfall on the coast of Eastern Pakistan. The storm surge completely devastated the islands near the coast, wiping out villages and crops. In the Tazumuddin upazila, heavily affected, over 45% of the population, 167,000 people, succumbed to the storm’s fury. The Pakistani government, headed by General Yahya Khan, faced criticism for its delay in responding to relief efforts. The aftermath of the cyclone contributed to triggering political unrest, leading to the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Bangladesh genocide of 1971, and ultimately the creation of the independent country of Bangladesh.

5. The Great Hurricane of 1780

The Great Hurricane of 1780 set a somber record—it remains the deadliest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the deadliest tropical cyclone in the Western Hemisphere. Not surprisingly, as in the 18th century, there was no advanced alert technology, so storms could seemingly pounce on unsuspecting people out of nowhere.

The hurricane, which raged from October 10 to 16, caused unprecedented devastation across the Lesser Antilles and claimed around 22,000 lives. Unfortunately, details about its path and strength are still unknown as the official Atlantic hurricane database only dates back to 1851.

The hurricane made landfall in Barbados, likely as a Category 5, and some estimates suggest wind speeds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h), surpassing any record previously recorded in the Atlantic basin’s history. It then passed through Martinique, St. Lucia, and St. Eustatius, claiming thousands of lives on these islands. Amid the American Revolution, the storm dealt a severe blow to the British fleet vying for control of the region, significantly weakening British dominance in the Atlantic. The hurricane then moved near Puerto Rico and over eastern Hispaniola, causing substantial damage along the coasts. Finally, it turned northeast and was last observed on October 20 southeast of the Canadian Atlantic.

4. The Super Outbreak

The 1974 Super Outbreak is the second-largest tornado outbreak ever seen in a single 24-hour period, surpassed only by the 2011 Super Outbreak. This historic event holds the record for being the most violent tornado outbreak ever recorded, unleashing 30, yes 30, F4/F5 tornadoes. The outbreak, which occurred from April 3 to 4, 1974, resulted in a total of 148 tornadoes across 13 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario.

This unprecedented outbreak caused damages of approximately $843 million (equivalent to approximately $5.26 billion in 2023), of which over $600 million (equivalent to about $3.75 billion in 2023) occurred in the United States alone. Destruction covered an extensive area of around 900 square miles along a combined length of 2,600 miles. In particular, the 1974 Super Outbreak was the first tornado outbreak in recorded history to produce over 100 tornadoes within a 24-hour period, a milestone that was not surpassed worldwide until the 1981 UK tornado outbreak and not matched in the United States until the 2011 Super Outbreak.

3. The Labor Day Hurricane

The Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 set many unpleasant records. It was one of the most intense Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded to make landfall in the United States. In fact, it reigned for several decades as the most intense hurricane in the Atlantic in terms of barometric pressure, although it was eventually surpassed. The storm also boasted the record for the strongest Atlantic hurricane in terms of 1-minute sustained winds until Hurricane Allen surpassed it in 1980. Additionally, it claimed the title of strongest landfalling hurricane by 1-minute sustained winds until it was tied by Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

The hurricane underwent rapid intensification in September 1935. A massive storm surge accompanied the passage of the eye, opening new channels and causing a surge of approximately 18 to 20 feet (5.5 to 6.1 meters) in the Florida Keys. This surge completely devastated the low-lying islands, wiping out entire cities along the way.

2. The Great Galveston Hurricane

The 1900 Galveston Hurricane, which remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, nearly wiped out the city of the same name in Texas, causing widespread devastation and an astonishing number of deaths ranging from 6,000 to 12,000, with 8,000 deaths being the most cited figure. The storm surge submerged the island city under 8 to 12 feet of water, destroying around 7,000 buildings, half of which (approximately) were homes, and leaving about 10,000 people homeless.

The damage exceeded $35.4 million in 1900. Which is a lot even by today’s standards. But adjusted for inflation? That amounts to over a billion dollars in damages, enough to put an end to the Golden Age of Galveston once and for all. Investors shifted their focus to Houston and never looked back. So it’s no surprise that Houston is one of the largest cities in the United States, including the largest in the Lone Star State, while Galveston, well, it’s not.

1. The Daulatpur-Saturia Tornado

Tornado Alley is in the U.S., but it’s almost certain that the deadliest tornado ever to touch down wasn’t. The Ganges Basin, encompassing Bangladesh, is prone to experiencing adverse weather conditions, and tornadoes are more common in the months leading up to and following the monsoon season. On April 26, 1989, atmospheric conditions led to the formation of severe storms and a tornado. A low-pressure system over Bihar and West Bengal, India, along with a ridge over China, intensified the pressure gradient in Bangladesh. The clash of warm, humid air from the Bay of Bengal and cool, dry air from the Himalayas, combined with strong winds, created favorable conditions for tornado formation.

Although exact figures are not available, it is likely that the Daulatpur-Saturia tornado, which struck on April 26, 1989, claimed the lives of around 1,300 people and left around 80,000 homeless. It is worth noting that in 2022, questions arose about this status, with claims that the tornado did not cause more than 922 deaths. Either way, it ranks among the worst tornadoes in history.

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