A photo of Hurricane Ivan, one of the strongest hurricanes on record, taken from the International Space Station on Sept. 11, 2004.
A photo of Hurricane Ivan, one of the strongest hurricanes on record, taken from the International Space Station on Sept. 11, 2004. Mike Finke/NASA
A sailboat balances on top of a boat dock after Hurricane Andrew's storm surge rolled through a Florida marina in 1992.
A sailboat balances on top of a boat dock after Hurricane Andrew's storm surge rolled through a Florida marina in 1992. Raymond Gehman/CORBIS
Wade Klien rests on the lawn of a beachfront house in Biloxi, Miss., Aug. 18, 1969.
Hurricane Camille: The shrimp boat
Hurricane Camille: The shrimp boat Wade Klien rests on the lawn of a beachfront house in Biloxi, Miss., Aug. 18, 1969. Jim Sugar/CORBIS
Hurricane Betsy, 1965: People on the beach in Nassau in the Bahamas struggle against the fierce winds before the storm hits.
Hurricane Betsy, 1965: People on the beach in Nassau in the Bahamas struggle against the fierce winds before the storm hits. Bettmann/CORBIS
A trench in Lake Charles, La., holds coffins of unidentified victims of Hurricane Audrey. The storm killed almost 400 people in 1957.
A trench in Lake Charles, La., holds coffins of unidentified victims of Hurricane Audrey. The storm killed almost 400 people in 1957. CORBIS
The Hotel Matecumbe in southern Florida was one of the few structures that survived the wrath of the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926.
The Hotel Matecumbe in southern Florida was one of the few structures that survived the wrath of the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. Bettmann/CORBIS
Some of the deadliest storms to strike the United States have hit the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. One of the worst hurricanes was Camille, which killed 256 people in 1969. But the history of hurricanes plaguing the region goes back as far settlements have been there to record their impact. Indeed, hurricanes have made landfall in Louisiana on an average of once every three years since 1871. Here are brief descriptions of some of the area's biggest storms.
Ivan, 2004: This Category 3 storm made landfall at Gulf Shores, Ala., on Sept. 16 with winds of 130 m.p.h. It was memorable more for the damage it did to the Caribbean, killing more than 30 people in Grenada and at least 20 in Jamaica, than for its affect on the United States. It took meteorologists by surprise when its remnants moved over the eastern U.S. and back out to sea to regain strength and return to the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm. Ivan's second trip to the Gulf resulted in very little additional damage.
Andrew, 1992: Seven people died and 94 were injured when Andrew landed in Louisiana on Aug. 26. Winds were measured at up to 153 m.p.h. at New Iberia, La. A barge on Bayou Teche in St. Mary Parish recorded winds of 173 m.p.h. This was all after the storm had cut a deadly path across southern Florida. At its peak, Andrew was rated as a Category 5 storm. Overall, the storm killed 23 people in the United States.
Camille, 1969: In terms of deaths, damage and power, Camille ranks as one of the very worst storms to hit the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi. A Category 5 storm, it killed 256 people with winds that topped 200 m.p.h. and a storm surge that reached at least 20 feet when it landed on August 17. More than 5,000 homes were destroyed.
Betsy, 1965: A storm surge of 10 feet reached New Orleans when Betsy made landfall on September 9. The city suffered some the worst flooding it had seen in decades. The storm surge on the coast was awe inspiring; Grand Isle experienced a 15.7 foot surge and wind gusts to 160 m.p.h. The Orleans Levee Board required that levees be raised to 12 feet after assessing the storm's impact. Betsy resulted in 58 Louisana deaths, and 81 overall.
Audrey, 1957: This deadly hurricane landed near the border of Louisiana and Texas on June 27. It killed at least 390 people. A storm surge of 12 feet was reported, with waves reaching 20 feet — or higher — above that. Wildlife were reported fleeing the area where Audrey hit the day before the storm arrived, including thousands of crawfish seen moving out of the marshes around Cameron, La.
Great Miami, 1926: This Category 4 hurricane cut a deadly path across the city of Miami on Aug. 18, producing a storm surge of 15 feet. It then moved across the Gulf of Mexico to strike the Alabama-Florida border, before reaching Louisiana. At least 243 people were dead when it was all over.
Grand Isle, 1909: On Sept. 20, a Category 4 hurricane stormed ashore and killed about 350 people. Heavy winds and a storm surge of 15 feet tossed boats out of the water and destroyed crops.
Chenier Caminanda, 1893: Before the appearance of modern forecasting tools, large death tolls from hurricanes were more common. This 1893 storm, thought to be a Category 4, is estimated to have killed about 2,000 people. By contrast, the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history was the Galveston, Texas, storm of 1900 that is believed to have killed over 8,000 people. This 1893 hurricane's unofficial name comes from the island that lost 779 people to the storm. The hurricane produced a storm surge of at least 15 feet.
Last Island, 1856:Thirteen inches of rain fell on New Orleans from this Category 4 storm. But the hurricane gets its name from Isle Derniere, or Last Island, where over 200 people were killed, with the only survivor being a cow. The island, southwest of New Orleans, had been a resort up until the arrival of this hurricane. It is now only a home to pelicans and other sea birds.
Source: National Weather Service