There’s no such thing as a minor hurricane, but as we know too well, some storms wreak more havoc than others. Much more.
Click through for the 12 of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history. Our list takes into account lives lost and damage wrought. For a list of the deadliest hurricanes to strike the U.S., irrespective of other damage caused, click here.
At left, fire destroys homes along the beach on Galveston Island, Texas, as Hurricane Ike approached on Sept. 12, 2008.
12. Hurricane Agnes, 1972
Hurricane Agnes proves that sometimes it’s the residual effects of a hurricane that can do the most damage. Agnes hit Florida as a Category 1 storm but did most of its damage later in the northeastern U.S., flooding areas from Virginia to New York. The hurricane was responsible for 122 deaths, most of them related to flooding. In today's dollars, the storm caused close to $18 billion in damages.
11. Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane, 1935
The National Weather Service began calling hurricanes by English-language names in 1953. In 1979, the agency began alternating male and female names and added Spanish and French nombres to the mix. The Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane obviously pre-dated this tradition.
First detected in the Bahamas, the storm barreled into the Florida Keys as a Category 5 hurricane -- in fact, it was one of only three Category 5 storms to make landfall in the U.S. during the entire 20th century.
The storm made landfall again on the northwest coast of Florida and swept over the southeastern U.S. Like Charley, it was small but vicious. It caused 408 deaths, mostly in the Keys, and $6 million in damages.
10. Sea Islands Hurricane, 1893
On Aug. 27, 1893, this Category 3 hurricane made landfall near Savannah, Ga. With a storm surge of up to 16 feet, the hurricane ravaged the Atlantic Coast as it moved north. The Sea Islands, just off Georgia, were hit first and were nearly completely submerged by the storm surge. Between 1,000 and 2,000 people were killed and 30,000 were left homeless. The storm decimated the South Carolina phosphate industry and wiped out crops all along the coast. Damages amounted to roughly $1 million at the time (over $23 million today).
9. Chenière Caminada Hurricane, 1893
Known as the Great October Storm, this powerful hurricane that hit Chenière Caminada, La., in October 1893 was the second deadly storm to hit the U.S. that season. After strengthening to a Category 4 hurricane, the storm made landfall on Oct. 2 with winds of up to 135 mph. A 16-foot storm surge followed, flooding much of southeast Louisiana. Nearly all of the buildings in the community were leveled by the hurricane and about 2,000 people were killed in Chenière Caminada and surrounding areas.
8. Hurricane Ivan, 2004
Hurricane Ivan was a Cape Verde-type hurricane, which means it formed off the west coast of Africa near the Cape Verde islands. These hurricanes can be some of the most destructive because they pick up energy while churning west over the warm waters of the south-central Atlantic Ocean.
Ivan was massive -- as large as the state of Texas -- as it swept north through the Caribbean. It slammed into Alabama’s Gulf Coast, spawning dozens of tornadoes and brining torrential rains to much of the southeastern U.S. Its storm surge at Grand Cayman Island destroyed or damaged 95 percent of the island's buildings. The storm killed 92 people and accounted for nearly $19 billion in damage in the U.S.
7. Hurricane Ike, 2008
Ike was the most costly hurricane in the history of Cuba and the third most costly in the U.S. Sweeping across the Atlantic into the Caribbean, it made landfall on the northeast coast of Cuba on Sept. 8. From there it crossed the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall near Galveston, Texas, as a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 110 mph. Ike killed almost 200 people, with 82 of those fatalities occurring in the U.S. It caused nearly $20 billion in damage.
6. Hurricane Camille, 1969
Hurricane Camille is another of the three Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. during the 20th century. It formed near the Cayman Islands and moved northwest, picking up energy over the warm Gulf of Mexico before slamming into the Mississippi coast three days later. Camille weakened to a tropical depression, crossing Mississippi and parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia.
Camille's actual wind strength isn't known because the storm destroyed all of the nearby wind-tracking instruments. Experts estimate that winds likely reached a staggering 200 mph. Camille caused 256 deaths, with 143 of those occurring on the Gulf Coast and 113 in Virginia. Damages totaled close to $1.5 billion.
5. Hurricane Audrey, 1957
Hurricane Audrey was first spotted in the Gulf of Mexico on June 24. It moved north, gaining strength over the Gulf before making landfall three days later along the coast around the Texas-Louisiana border. Audrey’s 8- to 12-foot storm surge flooded low-lying areas of southwestern Louisiana, killing most of the 390 people who died in the storm. No hurricane would cause as many deaths until Katrina hit in 2005. Damages from the storm totaled around $150 million at the time.
4. Hurricane Andrew, 1992
After forming in the south-central Atlantic and striking the Bahamas, Andrew barreled into Florida as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm continued into the Gulf of Mexico, hitting the central Louisiana coast as a Category 3 storm. Although Andrew created a huge storm surge, the majority of the devastation it wrought was the result of fierce winds: One station recorded sustained winds of 142 mph and gusts to 169 mph; then the wind gauge broke. Hurricane Andrew was responsible for 23 deaths and $26.5 billion in damages, making it the second most costly hurricane in U.S. history.
3. San Felipe-Okeechobee Hurricane, 1928
This Cape Verde-type hurricane made landfall at the Guadeloupe islands 300 miles southeast of Puerto Rico. Nearly 1,200 people were killed there, and another 300 people perished when the storm hit Puerto Rico. The hurricane continued west, hitting southeastern Florida and causing a 6- to 9-foot storm surge at Lake Okeechobee. The surge breached the levee surrounding the lake, which resulted in widespread flooding that killed 1,836 people. By the time it fizzled out, the San Felipe-Okeechobee Hurricane had killed nearly 4,000 people and caused an estimated $100 million in damages.
2. Hurricane Katrina, 2005
Hurricane Katrina showed that even in the modern era, with all its technological and industrial achievements, human beings are sometimes no match for nature’s fury. Katrina made landfall in Florida as a Category 1 hurricane on Aug. 25. It moved westward across south Florida, where it caused flooding and fatalities before reaching the Gulf of Mexico the next day. While in the Gulf, Katrina picked up considerable strength, growing into a Category 5 hurricane with 175 mph winds.
Katrina made landfall at the southeastern tip of Louisiana on Aug. 29 as a Category 3 storm; its winds were blowing about 120 mph. It continued north, making landfall again near the Louisiana and Mississippi border. Katrina caused devastation throughout the Gulf Coast, with most of the deaths occurring in Louisiana after the levy system surrounding New Orleans failed. Roughly 80 percent of the city was flooded, leading to the majority of the storm’s estimated 1,830 deaths. Damage from Katrina totaled more than $100 billion. Many areas of New Orleans and the Gulf region are still recovering.
Next: Stunning Hurricane Photos from Space
1. Galveston Hurricane, 1900
On Sept. 8, 1900, this Category 4 hurricane made landfall in Galveston, Texas, and became the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history. It caused an estimated 8,000 deaths and left another 10,000 people homeless. When the tropical storm formed in the Atlantic, the U.S. Weather Bureau predicted it would curve northeast and hit the mid-Atlantic Coast. Because of the inaccurate forecast, few people had evacuated the Texas coast.
Built on an island only 8.7 feet above sea level, the city of Galveston was particularly vulnerable to the hurricane's storm surge. Tides of 8 to 15 feet flooded the entire Galveston Island and wind speeds were estimated at 130 mph. The city was virtually destroyed, and property damage was estimated at $30 million (around $800 million in today's dollars).