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1900 Galveston hurricane
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Galveston Hurricane (1900) SWA.JPG
Surface weather analysis of the hurricane on September 8, just before landfall.
Formed August 27, 1900
Dissipated September 15, 1900
(Extratropical after September 11, 1900)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 145 mph (230 km/h)
Lowest pressure 936 mbar (hPa); 27.64 inHg
Fatalities 8,000+
(Deadliest in U.S. history; fourth-deadliest Atlantic hurricane)
Damage $35.4 million (1900 USD)
($1.097 billion in 2020 USD)
Areas affected Lesser Antilles, Greater Antilles (Dominican Republic and Cuba landfalls), Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas, Gulf Coast of the United States (Texas landfall), Midwestern United States, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Eastern Canada
Part of the 1900 Atlantic hurricane season

The Great Galveston hurricane, known regionally as the Great Storm of 1900, was the deadliest natural disaster in United States history and the fifth-deadliest Atlantic hurricane overall.

The hurricane left between 6,000 and 12,000 fatalities in the United States; the number most cited in official reports is 8,000. Most of these deaths occurred in and near Galveston, Texas, after storm surge inundated the coastline with 8 to 12 ft (2.4 to 3.7 m) of water.

In addition to the number killed, the storm destroyed about 7,000 buildings of all uses in Galveston, which included 3,636 demolished homes; every dwelling in the city suffered some degree of damage.

The hurricane left approximately 10,000 people in the city homeless, out of a total population of fewer than 38,000.

The disaster ended the Golden Era of Galveston, as the hurricane alarmed potential investors, who turned to Houston instead.

In response to the storm, three engineers designed and oversaw plans to raise the Gulf of Mexico shoreline of Galveston island by 17 ft (5.2 m) and erect a 10 mi (16 km) seawall.

Before it hit the USA

On August 27, 1900, a ship east of the Windward Islands detected a tropical cyclone, the first observed during the annual season. Initially at tropical storm status, it remained mostly stagnant in intensity while moving steadily west-northwestward and entered the northeastern Caribbean Sea on August 30. The storm made landfall in the Dominican Republic as a weak tropical storm on September 2. It weakened slightly while crossing Hispaniola, before re-emerging into the Caribbean Sea later that day. On September 3, the cyclone struck modern day Santiago de Cuba Province and then slowly drifted along the southern coast of Cuba. Upon reaching the Gulf of Mexico on September 6, the storm strengthened into a hurricane. Significant intensification followed and the system peaked as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 km/h) on September 8.

Landfall in the USA and Canada

Early on September 9 it made landfall to the south of Houston, Texas. The cyclone weakened quickly after moving inland and fell to tropical storm intensity late on September 9. The storm turned east-northeastward and became extratropical over Iowa on September 11. The extratropical system strengthened while accelerating across the Midwestern United States, New England, and Eastern Canada before reaching the Gulf of Saint Lawrence on September 13. After striking Newfoundland later that day, the extratropical storm entered the far North Atlantic Ocean and weakened, with the remnants last observed near Iceland on September 15.

Damage and casualties

The great storm brought flooding and severe thunderstorms to portions of the Caribbean, especially Cuba and Jamaica. It is likely that much of South Florida experienced tropical storm-force winds, though mostly minor damage occurred.

Hurricane-force winds and storm surge inundated portions of southern Louisiana, though the cyclone left no significant structural damage or fatalities in the state.

The hurricane brought strong winds and storm surge to a large portion of east Texas, with Galveston suffering the brunt of the impact. Farther north, the storm and its remnants continued to produce heavy rains and gusty winds, which downed telegraph wires, signs, and trees in several states.

Fatalities occurred in other states, including fifteen in Ohio, six in Wisconsin, two in Illinois, two in New York, one in Massachusetts, and one in Missouri.

Damage from the storm throughout the United States exceeded $34 million.

The remnants also brought severe impact to Canada. In Ontario, damage reached about $1.35 million, with $1 million to crops. The remnants of the hurricane caused at least 52 deaths – and possibly as many as 232 deaths – in Canada, mostly due to sunken vessels near Newfoundland and the French territory of Saint-Pierre.

Throughout its path, the storm caused more than $35.4 million in damage.

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