The deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record struck with 200 MPH winds on this day in 1780. It killed more than 20,000 people, and was one of three major hurricanes which made landfall in the Caribbean that month.
The Great Hurricane of 1780
Although specifics on this hurricane’s track and strength are unknown, forecasters and historians believe that the Great Hurricane of 1780 initially formed near the Cape Verde Islands on October 9, 1780. The hurricane strengthened and grew in size as it tracked slowly westward, first affecting Barbados, the western most Caribbean island, late on 9 October. The worst of the hurricane, with winds possibly exceeding 321.9 km/h (200 mph), passed over Barbardos late on 10 October 10 before moving past Martinique and St. Lucia early on 11 October. The hurricane passed near Puerto Rico and over the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic (at the time known known as Santo Domingo) on 14 October, causing heavy damage near the coastlines. Ultimately, the system turned to the northeast, passing 258 km (160 mi) southeast of Bermuda on 18 October. The hurricane was last observed on October 20, 1780, southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, Canada.
Climate experts say that hurricanes are getting stronger, which is why the strongest hurricane this year had wind speeds about one third of the 1780 storm.