10 Largest Hurricanes in History

Hurricanes cause great devastation whenever they hit, so we tend to think that the biggest hurricanes cause the most damage.

However, hurricanes do not have to be huge to cause great loss of life and property.

Hurricanes have been with humanity forever, but we haven’t always been able to understand them or record their strength and size.

So our records for the largest storms may be incomplete.

In this list of the largest hurricanes, we include records for all cyclones, including typhoons, and estimate size based on storm radius, not damage or wind speed.

Hurricane Yolanda

Source: By NASA – [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Although Yolanda, also known as Typhoon Haiyan, is the smallest on this list, it is one of the strongest storms ever.

It is by far the deadliest storm to hit the Philippines, causing more than 6,000 deaths and US$2 billion in damage in the country.

Yolanda also caused extensive damage in several other countries in the region, as well as southern China and Vietnam in Southeast Asia.

Typhoon Usagi

This storm was first identified as a tropical depression off the coast of the Philippines in early September 2013.

Over three days, the storm formed a 17-mile-wide eye and was upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane before reaching the coast of China.

The storm caused a total of $4.3 billion in the Philippines and China.

In China, 33 people died, thousands were left homeless and billions of dollars worth of crops were destroyed by the storm.

Usagi caused approximately 30 deaths.

Typhoon Morakot

Storm type: Category 1 typhoon

Source: NASA [Public Domain]

Source: NASA [Public Domain]

Morakot was one of the costliest and deadliest typhoons to hit Taiwan.

Its 90 mph wind speed may not seem dangerous.

But it was the slow movement of the eye of the storm that allowed the storm to cause so much damage.

It poured more than 100 feet into the nation’s waterways, causing widespread flooding.

The storm also affected other Southeast Asian countries, including China and Japan.

In total, Morakot caused losses of more than $6 billion (not adjusted for inflation).

Hurricane Karl

Source: NOAA via Wikimedia Commons

Karl was a major hurricane-force tropical storm that formed off the coast of Cape Verde.

It eventually became a Cat 3 storm with sustained winds of 145 mph.

The storm weakened to a Cat 1 hurricane before reaching the Faroe Islands.

Karl was not responsible for any recorded damages or deaths.

Karl is the sixth largest Atlantic hurricane of all time.

Hurricane Nicole

Storm type: Cat 4 major hurricane

Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Nicole’s path forced landfall only on the island of Bermuda, where it caused significant damage.

That’s not to say the storm didn’t affect other areas.

In the United States, the huge waves generated by the storm affected the ocean animals on the beaches of South Florida.

In Bermuda, the storm destroyed homes, farms and valuable commercial coastal areas on the island.

Storm watchers were much more concerned about a more powerful storm, Hurricane Matthew, which hit almost at the same time as Nicole.

Hurricane Lili

Storm type: Category 3 major hurricane

Storm type: Category 3 major hurricane

Starting as a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico and ending after hitting London, this slow-moving storm with a wide berth caused significant flood damage on two continents.

The storm caused death in several Central American countries, Cuba and the Bahamas.

Some aid to storm victims in Cuba caused international controversy.

Hurricane Igor

Source: NOAA [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Source: NOAA [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Fortunately for residents of the Caribbean and the United States, Igor weakened from a Category 4 storm to a Category 3 storm before entering the Gulf region.

Igor moved up the east coast of the US after causing relatively little damage to Bermuda.

The floods caused about 200 million US dollars in damages in this part of the country.

Hurricane Sandy

Storm type: Category 3 hurricane

Olsen-New Jersey National Guard [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Sandy is the third most destructive hurricane to hit the United States.

The wind and rain caused nearly $70 billion worth of damage and over 200 lives.

The carnage began when Sandy, still a tropical storm, hit the Caribbean. From there it traveled along the east coast of the United States.

A total of 24 states were affected by the storm.

An arctic front caused the intense rain produced by Sandy to turn to snow.

Hurricane Olga

Storm type: Cat 1 hurricane

Storm type: Cat 1 hurricane

Source: NASA

Olga is the largest Atlantic hurricane when measured by storm wind diameter.

It was not a particularly strong storm, reaching category 1 strength.

It did not cause any personal or commercial damage to the country as it never reached the country.

Olga fluctuated between hurricane strength and tropical storm strength, rocking some boats with high waves but causing physical damage to only one vessel (reported).

Olga was the last storm of the 2001 hurricane season.

Typhoon Tip

Storm type: Category 5 super typhoon

Storm type: Category 5 super typhoon

Storm type: Category 5 super typhoon

Maximum wind speed: 190 mph

Maximum wind speed: 190 mph

Maximum wind speed: 190 mph

Maximum wind speed: 190 mph

Maximum wind speed: 190 mph

Maximum wind speed: 190 mph

Maximum wind speed: 190 mph

Maximum wind speed: 190 mph

Maximum wind speed: 190 mph

Maximum wind speed: 190 mph

Source: GMS-1 Satellite – [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Typhoon Tip is the largest storm in world history.

The storm is also the most intense Pacific typhoon on record.

The storm’s gale-force winds will cover the western United States from the Pacific coast to the western border of Missouri.

The peak formed over the Marshall Islands near the Philippines.

It gained strength as it moved over the ocean, eventually reaching a Category 5 rating with extremely strong winds.

The storm weakened as it approached Japan.

However, it caused considerable damage to Okinawa and Tokyo.

The storm was fierce enough that the Chinese ship broke in half.

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