Photograph by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sandy and 100 Years of Hurricanes

  1. Hurricane Sandy (2012) Category 1
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    Hurricane Sandy (2012) Category 1

    Even before it slammed into the New Jersey coast, Hurricane Sandy had disrupted travel, halted stock trading, and forced thousands to flee to higher ground.  Rated initially as a Category 1 hurricane (based on the five-point Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale), Sandy still was, as President Barack Obama put it, “a serious and big storm." Its 90 mph winds spanned more than 900 miles across and the prospect of flooding and wind damage left New York City a ghost town as the East Coast awaited its landfall.


    Here's a look at Sandy's damage so far, and a look back at the worst U.S. storms of the past 100 years.
    Photograph by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  2. Washed Out
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    Washed Out

    A UN Peacekeeper stands watch near a bridge washed away by heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy October 25, 2012 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The death toll stands at 51, with wide spread flooding and damage to infrastructure. 

    Photograph by Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Images
  3. Blown Over
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    Blown Over

    High winds blow sea foam onto Jeanette's Pier in Nags Head, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 as wind and rain from Hurricane Sandy move into the area. Governors from North Carolina, where steady rains were whipped by gusting winds Saturday night, to Connecticut declared states of emergency.

    Photograph by Gerry Broome/AP Photo
  4. Rising Water
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    Rising Water

    An ambulance and bus move through flood water at Rockaway Beach Boulevard as Hurricane Sandy begins to affect the area on October 29, 2012 in the Queens borough of New York City. Much of the lower lying areas of New York City have a mandatory evacuation in preparation for the coastal surge from Sandy.

    Photograph by Allison Joyce/Getty Images
  5. Hurricane Irene (2011) Category 1
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    Hurricane Irene (2011) Category 1

    Irene had already lost some of its power when it hit the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Aug. 27. What it lacked in speed it made up for in size and destruction. The storm killed at least 40 people as it moved up the East Coast cutting off power to five million and causing an estimated $7 billion damage, making it one of the most costly ever. Much of that won't be insured, as most policies don't cover flooding. And this was one wet storm, dumping up to 14 inches of rain on parts of North Carolina. In New Jersey, thousands were evacuated yet several people were killed by overflowing rivers and streams. New York City -- which shut down its transit system for the first time ever -- dodged the worst. Some suburbs were left for days without power.

    Above, Melvin Flores, 35, uses a pail to scoop floodwaters out of his utility room in his apartment after rain from Hurricane Irene on Aug. 28, 2011 in Little Falls, N.J. Flood waters rose all across New Jersey, closing roads from side streets to major highways and leaving 600,000 homes and businesses without power. Photographer: Julio Cortez/AP

    Photographer: Julio Cortez/AP
  6. Gloria (1985) Category 4
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    Gloria (1985) Category 4

    Gloria was a big hurricane, though not as big as some expected. As its 145-mph winds churned up the Atlantic and headed for the highly populated, media-rich, New York area, some meteorologists dubbed it the "Storm of the Century." Cape May, N.J., was evacuated and Harvard University closed for only the third time in its history. Gloria hit at low tide, which reduced storm surges and restrained damage. Its winds ripped up trees on Long Island, washed away beaches and docks, and knocked out power for thousands. All in all, it was a huge storm -- just not all it was cracked up to be.

    Photographer: Steve Liss/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

    Photographer: Steve Liss/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
  7. Donna (1960) Category 4
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    Donna (1960) Category 4

    Donna hit hard and didn't stop. No other Atlantic storm has maintained hurricane-force winds from Florida to the Mid-Atlantic states and on to New England. For five days in September, Donna generated gusts of up to 150 mph. Storm surges in the Florida Keys damaged the sport-fishing industry for months. This storm was also known for its huge eye -- the calm opening at the heart of the storm -- that widened as much as 80 miles.

    Firefighters, above, drive through a flooded street in New York in the wake of Hurricane Donna on Sept. 16, 1960. The hurricane left 135 dead. Photographer: Keystone/Getty Images

    Photographer: Keystone/Getty Images
  8. Hurricanes Connie and Diane (1955) Category 1
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    Hurricanes Connie and Diane (1955) Category 1

    This was a team effort. In little more than a week, two hurricanes came ashore in North Carolina and moved up the coast to deposit a catastrophic amount of rain on New England. The resulting floods killed 184 people and caused $7.4 billion of damage in 2010 dollars. First came Hurricane Connie, packing relatively weak 50-mph winds and four to six inches of rain. That saturated the ground, setting up Diane. The second hurricane dumped 20 inches of rain over two days -- the wettest hurricane ever known to strike New England. Rivers jumped their banks and entire subdivisions were swept away.

    Huge waves driven by hurricane Diane, above, with winds up to 100 miles an hour, tear over the boardwalk into a small lunchroom on Aug. 17, 1955, in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Photographer: Bettmann/CORBIS

    Photographer: Bettmann/CORBIS
  9. Audrey (1957) Category 4
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    Audrey (1957) Category 4

    Until Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the storm that stuck in the minds of Louisianans was Audrey, which had come as a surprise. It is unusual for such a strong hurricane to hit as early as June; Audrey is one of only two category 4 hurricanes to have done so. The storm developed so rapidly that warnings were issued by officials just before it landed, ensuring that many people were caught as they sought higher ground. The National Hurricane Center lists Audrey's death toll as 416, but so many residents around New Orleans were swept away in the storm surge that the true figure may well be higher. Photographer: Peter Stackpole/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

    Photographer: Peter Stackpole/Time Life Pictures/Getty Image
  10. Ike (2008) Category 2
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    Ike (2008) Category 2

    So far, Ike was the third-most-costly hurricane to hit the U.S., with damage estimated at $27.8 billion in 2010 dollars. It could have been worse. The storm had spent much of its ferocity on Turks and Caicos and on Cuba by the time it hit the U.S. Gulf Coast. If not as intense as others on this list, Ike was massive, hammering an area that stretched from Louisiana to Corpus Christi, Tex. Floodwaters inundated Galveston, Tex., and winds blew windows out of skyscrapers and cut off power in downtown Houston. Still, the worst predictions proved overblown.

    Above, Hurricane Ike hits a five-story building on the waterfront in Baracoa, eastern Cuba, on September 7, 2008. Photographer: AFP/Getty Images

    Photographer: AFP/Getty Images
  11. Andrew (1992) Category 5
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    Andrew (1992) Category 5

    "Small and ferocious" is how the National Hurricane Center describes Andrew. Add costly: The loss of property in South Florida -- $45.6 billion in 2010 dollars -- makes Andrew the most destructive U.S. hurricane before Katrina. Thirteen oil rigs were toppled and destroyed boats amounted to $500 million in losses. Some of the lasting images of Andrew are aerial shots showing row upon row of flattened mobile homes. In south Dade County, an estimated 90 percent of all mobile homes were wiped out. More than a quarter-million people were left homeless. The death toll reached 26.

    Above, the Florida City, Fla., landmark water tower remains standing on Aug. 25, 1992, over the ruins of this coastal community that was hit by the force of Hurricane Andrew. Photograph: AP

    Photograph: AP
  12. The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 Category 3
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    The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 Category 3

    Fast and deadly, this storm wreaked some of the worst damage ever in the Northeast. Having caught the jet stream, it didn't weaken as most storms do when they move up the coast. This one slammed into the south shore of New York's Long Island on Sept. 21, bearing winds up to 186 miles per hour and storm tides of 18 to 25 feet and sweeping away homes, yachts, and railway beds. Downed power lines set off fires in New London and Mystic, Conn. Montauk, on the eastern tip of Long Island, was devastated. Fishing fleets were, too: Some 2,605 boats were destroyed. When the clouds cleared, 564 people were counted dead. Photograph: NWS Historic Collection/NOAA

    Photograph: NWS Historic Collection/NOAA
  13. Camille (1969) Category 5
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    Camille (1969) Category 5

    Perhaps the most intense hurricane ever to hit the U.S., Camille is the only one that sustained wind speeds of 190 mph. It also killed more people -- 256 -- than any hurricane other than Katrina in the past 50 years. The Mississippi coast was flattened, killing many who had refused to evacuate. Winds hurled rails and cross-ties from a bridge across Bay St. Louis, Miss., and Gulfport was nearly completely destroyed. All told, the damage was $9.3 billion in 2010 dollars. To the last, Camille packed a punch: As it petered out, the storm dumped 27 inches of rain on Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, causing flooding and landslides.

    Above, Carl Wright, 11, drinks from a broken pipe amid the ruins of his father's service station in Gulfport, Miss., on Aug. 19, 1969, in the aftermath of Hurricane Camille. Fresh potable water was scarce following the storm, which battered the Gulf coast. Photographer: Jack Thornell/AP

    Photographer: Jack Thornell/AP
  14. The Great Miami Hurricane (1926) Category 4
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    The Great Miami Hurricane (1926) Category 4

    First the Florida land boom collapsed. Then the heavens opened up. Many new residents of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, drawn by the 1920s real estate speculation, had never been through a hurricane, so they took the warnings lightly. Some crowded the streets when the eye of the hurricane passed over, only to be swept away when the storm resumed. Property damage was immense: Archival photographs show ships heaved ashore and houses smashed like kindling. The National Hurricane Center estimates that if the same storm were to hit the area today, it would cost about $165 billion.

    Above, the coastline in Miami, Florida, is shown on Oct. 21, 1926, following the great hurricane. Photographer: R. B. Holt/MPI/Getty Images

    Photographer: R. B. Holt/MPI/Getty Images
  15. The Lake Okeechobee Hurricane (1928) Category 4
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    The Lake Okeechobee Hurricane (1928) Category 4

    Only two years after the Great Miami Hurricane, a second massive storm struck south Florida. It slammed the wealthy enclave of Palm Beach, uprooting palm trees and crumpling bridges. The worst devastation occurred inland when the waters of Lake Okeechobee topped the south levee and flooded the fertile vegetable farmland. More than 2,500 people -- mostly poor, migrant laborers -- were swept away, making Lake Okeechobee the second-most-deadly U.S. hurricane. In Port Mayaca cemetery, a simple stone marker marks a mass grave in which 1,600 victims are buried. Photograph: NOAA

    Photograph: NOAA
  16. Katrina (2005) Category 3
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    Katrina (2005) Category 3

    The storm itself was massive, striking a broad swath of the Gulf Coast with 145-mph winds and a 29-foot wall of water. But it was the collapse of New Orleans's intricate sea walls that turned Hurricane Katrina into a truly epic disaster. Water surged through 80 percent of the city, driving the death toll to 1,800 -- more than any storm since 1928 -- and causing property damage valued at $105.8 billion (in 2010 dollars). Poorly coordinated rescue efforts left thousands stranded. Haunting images linger of poor, desperate people waiting to be rescued from rooftops or evacuated from the Superdome. Photographer: David J. Phillip/AP

    Photographer: David J. Phillip/AP
  17. The 1900 Galveston Hurricane Category 4
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    The 1900 Galveston Hurricane Category 4

    The booming city of Galveston, Tex., received little warning of the most catastrophic storm in U.S. history. The U.S. Weather Bureau had described a "tropical storm" moving up from Cuba, but residents were lulled by clear skies. Seas began to swell on Sept. 7. When waves struck a day later, they were driven by winds of 145 mph. A 15-foot storm surge washed over the low, flat island, sweeping houses into a tall, deadly wall of debris. At least 8,000 people -- a fifth of the city's population -- died. It took weeks to find and dispose of most corpses, with some still washing ashore months later. Photographer: NOAA

    Photographer: Buyenlarge/Getty Images