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Question of the Day: Storm Surge Loss of Life

Hurricane Iris - 2001 (Image courtesy National Hurricane Center)


July 9, 2008


What was the greatest loss of life associated with any storm surge in the United States?

While not all the details are known, the category 4, Galveston, Texas hurricane of September 8, 1900, caused the greatest loss of life from a storm surge. Not only was it the greatest loss of life from a storm surge, it was also the greatest loss of life in the United States associated with any weather-related disaster.

The hurricane created an 8 to 15 foot surge that inundated all of Galveston Island, as well as other portions of the nearby Texas coast. This surge was largely responsible for the estimated 6,000 to 12,000 deaths attributed to the storm. The damage to property was estimated at $30 million.

Fortunately, satellites, computers, advanced sensing and prediction techniques, and better communication systems allow meteorologists to better predict and warn the public of impending hurricanes.

Other notable surges occurred with Hurricane Andrew (17 feet), Hurricane Hugo (20 ft), and Hurricane Camille (24.6 feet). The 1938 hurricane that affected New England caused a 10 to 12 ft surge in Narragansett and Buzzards Bays.

(This information prepared by the National Weather Service Forecast Offices in Gray and Caribou, Maine.)

For additional information about hurricanes and hurricane safety, visit the National Hurricane Center's web site at:

Also visit National Weather Service Caribou at and Gray at



Beth Barton or Lynette Miller


Last update: 07/20/10