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Hurricane Harvey

How Hurricane Harvey compares to the biggest US storms since 2000

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 August, 2017, 11:23am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 12:32pm

Hurricane Harvey has reached land, securing its place in history as the most furious hurricane to hit the Texas coast since Hurricane Carla in 1961. Carla killed dozens and destroyed nearly 2,000 homes.

Here’s a look at Hurricane Carla and some of the most damaging hurricanes to hit the United States since 2000:


Starting as a tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea on September 3, 1961, Carla steadily gained momentum until it was labelled a major hurricane four days later. After a few days, it became a Category 5, only to be downgraded to a Category 4 by September 11, when it made landfall on Matagorda Island, 61-kilometre barrier island on the Texas Gulf coast, according to the National Weather Service.

It weakened to a tropical storm after its eye hit Port O’Connor and Port Lavaca in Texas. The hurricane also impacted parts of Louisiana, Oklahoma and Illinois.

In Texas, the highest winds were about 185kph but sustained winds in some parts hit 273kph.

The hurricane spawned 18 tornadoes, including 10 in Louisiana and eight in Texas. Between Carla and the subsequent tornadoes, the NWS said 46 people were killed and more than 450 were injured.

Total damage was estimated at US$2.36 billion with Texas suffering more than US$400 million in damage. In Texas, 1,915 homes were destroyed.


Katrina crossed the tip of Florida and then swept into the Gulf of Mexico and over Louisiana and Mississippi, causing more than 1,800 deaths and an estimated $108 billion in damage and becoming the costliest hurricane in US history, according to the National Hurricane Centre. Most of the fatalities occurred in Louisiana, where thousands of homes and businesses in New Orleans were destroyed by strong winds and flooding. Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and Alabama also reported deaths in the 2005 hurricane, which left about 3 million people without power, some for weeks at a time.


The pounding winds and storm surges of Sandy, dubbed a “superstorm” since it was extratropical by the time it made landfall, devastated the coastlines of New York and New Jersey in late October 2012, damaging at least 650,000 homes and causing about 8.5 million power outages, according to the Hurricane Centre. US officials preliminarily tallied at least US$50 billion in damage, though some sources cite around US$75 billion. There were at least 147 deaths directly tied to storm conditions, as well as a number of indirect fatalities linked to hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning and falling trees during the clean-up effort, the centre said. Repairs to homes and infrastructure continue today.


Ike’s storm surges raised water levels across nearly the entire US Gulf coast when it hit in 2008, causing almost US$30 billion in damage, mostly in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. At least 20 people were killed, according to the Hurricane Centre. Waves battered the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, and almost 3 million people in those state lost power. Winds uprooted trees, and a number of homes were damaged.


Coming near the end of 2005’s extraordinary hurricane season, Wilma caused 98 per cent of South Florida to lose electricity, with experts at the Hurricane Centre attributing widespread damage in the state to its large core. Trees were downed, windows shattered, roofs torn up and crops lost. All told, the US reported more than US$21 billion in damage, as well as five deaths.


Ivan’s storm surge in 2004 caused as much as a 400-metre section of an interstate bridge to collapse in Florida, which along with Alabama was among the hardest-hit states, according to the Hurricane Centre. Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed. Debris piled up after the storm stretched for more than three-quarters of a mile and were as tall as seven stories. Almost 2 million people experienced power outages. Ivan killed 25 people and caused more than US$18 billion in damage, according to the centre.


Rita, one of the strongest hurricanes of the record-breaking 2005 season, prompted one of the largest-scale evacuations in US history, with more than 2 million people estimated to have fled the Texas coast, according to the Hurricane Centre. Coming just weeks after Katrina, Rita’s wind and rain caused US$12 billion in damage and killed 62 people, including many nursing home residents whose bus caught fire as they fled the storm, the centre said. Nearly every structure in some coastal areas of southwestern Louisiana was destroyed, some entirely swept away.