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Did You Live Through Any of the Worst Storms Recorded in History?

When determining the severity of a storm, there is a benchmark of deadly, destructive, and costly storms that are used for comparison. They all demonstrated the brute force of weather in the form of hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, and more. The following storms are some of the worst storms ever recorded in history, and they prove that we’re no match against the power of Mother Nature!

1935 Black Sunday

1935BlackSunday

Could you imagine living through a dust storm that was so bad that you didn’t know if the sun was out or not? In 1935, 70+ mph winds kicked up walls of dust throughout the Great Plains. It’s estimated that 300 million tons of dust polluted the air. Power lines were knocked down and caused wildfires and hundreds of animals and livestock died from ingesting the dust.

1954 Hurricane Hazel

1954HurricaneHazel

Hurricane Hazel’s dangerous path began in the Caribbean over warm waters. It struck Haiti and killed anywhere from 400 to 1000 people. The storm re-intensified and made its way to the eastern coat of the United States, where it strengthened to category 4 hurricane as it came ashore. With winds 130+ mph and storm surge as high as 10-15 feet, the storm caused major damage. Hurricane Hazel washed out 50 bridges and caused 257 deaths in the US and Canada alone.

1962 Columbus Day

1962ColumbusDay

This storm will always be remembered as “The Big Blow”. The Northwest experienced catastrophic damage and tens of people lost their lives during this once in a lifetime storm. It takes a very unlikely combination of ingredients in order for a storm of this size to make it to the Pacific Northwest like this one, which resulted in the Oregon, Washington, and Canadian coasts getting hit by 120-1338 mph winds. In terms of today’s money, it caused $2.2 billion in damage and killed almost 50 people. The Columbus Day storm of 1962 remains as the most powerful extra tropical cyclone to hit the United States west coast in the past century.

1974 Tornado Superoutbreak

1974TornadoOutbreak

This was the first tornado outbreak considered a “superoutbreak”. Unfortunately for the plains, this series of storms that formed in early April 1974 was a worst case scenario. Deadly twisters formed, 148 to be exact, across 13 states and Canada. Over the course of two days, 24 F4 tornadoes and 6 F5 tornadoes formed. 300 deaths resulted from the outbreak, as well as more than 5000 injuries.

1991 The Perfect Storm

1991PerfectStorm

This storm is referred to as a “perfect storm” because a tropical system and a non-tropical system came together and formed a massive storm that terrorized several countries. There was destructive flooding all throughout the Caribbean, United States, and Canada. Overall, it resulted in $200 million in damage across 9 states in the United States, and 12 deaths. 

1993 Superstorm

1993Superstorm

Throughout the southeast and Mid-Atlantic in March 1993, the most extreme non-tropical Gulf of Mexico cyclone development on record formed. A cluster of thunderstorms, 11 tornadoes, whiteout conditions, and extremely heavy winds impacted the US because of this storm. The impacts were felt from Cuba to Canada, hitting 26 US states in between. The total damage added up to $5.5 billion, and every east coast airport was closed at some point for this storm, which is the first time in history that happened.

2012 Derecho

2012Derecho

This Derecho was of historic proportions. In June 2012, the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic states were hit by a derecho that formed along the edge of an extreme heat wave. Strong winds and torrential rain battered the area and millions lost power. 34 people died in the unbearable heat that followed the power outages, and the lashing winds caused 13 deaths. The strongest wind gust measured was 91 mph in Fort Wayne, IN.

2012 Superstorm Sandy

2012Sandy

This storm started as classic late October hurricane, but because of a strong jet stream, soon combined with a nor’easter to create a massive and unstoppable force of nature. The storm measured 1000 miles across and although most storms like this exit east into the Atlantic, Sandy took an unusual turn that moved towards the coast. Storm surge from Sandy caused record flooding in New Jersey and New York City, and with winds extending 500 miles out from the center, it impacted states all the way to Wisconsin. In the end, there was $62 billion done in damage and at least 87 killed.

Did you experience or remember any of these catastrophic storms? Tell us in the comments below! Watch The Weather Channel’s Top 10 Ultimate Storms by checking your local listings.


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37 Comments


  1. I had the outskirts of Sandy graze my home in Eastern Massachusetts, and my mom received a lot of complaints (her name being Sandy) from relatives in New Jersey. Other than that, I’ve been fortunate to have not been impacted by any of those storms.

  2. ya i lived thru the 1993 superstorm we lost power that night and did not get it back until the 5th day lucky we had one gas logs in the living room we had to put up sheets to keep the heat in the room i was like 20 year old i think i lived in Birmingham Alabama we had alot of snow it started with rain then at around 4pm it started changing to snow by 5:30pm or so it was all snow we even had thunder snow it was so cool!!!!!!!!!!! but ya it was a SUPER STORM OF MARCH 1993 I WILL NEVER FORGET IT!!!!!!!

  3. To Tornadobummer, I am a believer in the Almighty Father, in his only beloved son JESUS. My prayers have save me many a time in very nasty weather when living in our area. Through bad floods when I was young and living with my family back then. Prayers have helped me and my family now through this Artic cold weather.

  4. None of those but was really scared after the tornado hit OKC in May of 1999! Afterward, it was going straight up I-44 but dissipated before it got to Tulsa.

  5. who doesn’t remember Sandy??? it was literally all people talked about for weeks! Even in Texas!

  6. Does anyone else remover the bad storm we had 2012-14? I forgot what year,terrible snowstorm.
    And 2015 and the 2 ft of snow some people got? (Me)

  7. I live on the Massachusetts coast and remember the Perfect Storm in October 1991 very well.

  8. 1991 Perfect Storm – heavy snow in Ohio
    1993 Superstorm – heavy snow in Ohio
    1974 Super Outbreak – The system that hit Xenia was moving into our area. I was 8 months pregnant with my first son. We had the cellar door open, hard hats on, radio and water standing by. No tornado hit but debris from Xenia came down in our area.
    2012 Derecho – not much damage at our place but a lot of trees down and power outages in the area.
    1978 Blizzard – (not listed) lasted around three days. Everything was shut down. Had a truck driver buried in his semi just north of town who was finally found and rescued after three days. Fortunately, we had gone grocery shopping the day before and we didn’t lose power.

  9. 1992 Hurricane Andrew didn’t make the list? Terrifying to go through, and then no electricity or city water for 2 weeks, some for months.

  10. I personally haven’t experienced any directly, but Sandy did affect me. My cousin has lived in Manhattan for a while, and was literally standing out on his balcony during the storm. He of course go the “what were you thinking” from his aunt, but that just seemed cool to me at the time. A few days later, I flew out to Baltimore. Driving to the place I was staying from the airport was pretty weird. On one side of the road, there was just a regular forest with no leaves (they had fallen off — it was November 1). The other side had trees strewn about everywhere. Not one was standing up. This is still (as of 3/4/2017) my only experience with any tropical cyclones whatsoever, if you don’t count compulsively checking Hurricane Central.

  11. We survived the 2012 Derecho on the Chesapeake. My husband, brother and sister and I were spending the night on our 27-foot sailboat in the Chesapeake Bay. We were anchored out when the storm hit us like a freight train at about 11:15 at night. It unfurled our jib (bending the brass cringle!) and the wind began pushing the boat over. Fortunately, my husband was able to get the jib re-furled and under control. My sister was literally holding me by the ankles as I reached into the cockpit in an attempt to bring down the sun umbrella. I kept saying to her, “Why doesn’t this tornado go away?” The winds howled and screamed through the rigging. We were mystified … there was nothing comparable in our experience with which to understand what was happening … Was it the end of the world?… The experience was surreal. I had lived for seven years in Alabama and had seen plenty of scary weather, but nothing like this! The storm did nearly $2,000 damage to our boat. The next morning we motored back to our marina and saw a horror show of damage, including very large, heavy boats that had been lifted off their boat lifts and through into the water… We passed several marinas on our way back to the dock, and saw many sailboats with sails in shreds. We were very thankful to have arrived back unscathed.

  12. I personally experienced three:

    1974 Tornado Superoutbreak
    1993 Superstorm
    2012 Superstorm Sandy

    The snowstorm (1993) was great fun. The other two were frightening and I wouldn’t mind if I never experienced them again

  13. We experienced the derecho. My mom was already very sick and we had no electricity, no AC, so I managed to get her to the hospital where they had power and AC and food. We had no power for almost two weeks. My dog and I practically lived in the car to stay cool. I never wan to go through something like that again!

  14. I was a young child when the 1962 Columbus day storm hit Seattle. While our whole family was huddled in the darkness of our living room, what scared me the most, was the fierce sounding powerful ROAR of the wind, to this day it still haunts me!

  15. Oh, this tells age! ’54 Hazel: I was 5 in kindergarten on Long Island and with lunchtime dismissal, we were “blown” out to the buses! I was so frightened because of the day light turned to dark at lunchtime. My relief came when I spotted my Mom’s car in front of the buses We were so fortunate only to lose and then find our patio umbrella 2 blocks away.
    ’74 Super outbreak: This was the most frightening night. This time, I was home in a small framed house with my 1 year old in Ky. I remember the only place was our center hall where I huddled with him. A small tornado did hit 2 miles away, but again, thankfully to God, we all were OK. This storm outbreak placed Xenia Oh in my mind and prayers forever.
    ’93 Super storm: Still in Ky, after the three of us were covered the best we could in a small, downstairs half bath, we awoke the next morning to 1 to 3 foot diameter tree trunks everywhere on our yard, driveway, and subdivision — a huge mess! The neighbor stated she had never heard any storm sound so loud and a logger later confirmed that a funnel cloud must have passed over our homes because of the way the tree bark had been twisted. I also noticed trees had fallen in complete opposite directions from one side of the street to the other. This was a scary, chaotic situation for sure. Thank God for answering our prayers.
    Those are the storms that had a direct impact on me. Sorry, you brave storm chasers, but I pray never to be near a tornado ever! You guys are “super brave” !!

  16. Well, 2 months before I was born, Hurricane Dora came through in September 1964..they told me it was very bad, and wanted my mother to go to the hospital in case she went into premature labor I guess, but you couldn’t even tell she was pregnant as she was very petite and she looked only about 4-5 months….but the hurricane came and went and when she finally went into labor, it was December 15, so she had no problems…funny thing is we haven’t had one like that since Grace…..due to that, its been over 52years and we are supposed to have a major hurricane every 20 years or so…we believe in something most people will scoff at and that is prayer…our Pastor has prayed away every hurricane that has headed our way, just like there is a Hand wrapped around us and keeping us from harm…I believe it because I know Jesus, I know this pastor, and I know that God’s Will Be Done, no matter what man says….so, when the time is right, we will have another and thats alright too because I know my family and and friends will be safe and protected from all harm….

  17. I have a recollection of Hazel when I was very young, and Sandy for sure. I lived in the Midwest as well where tornadoes are common, but Sandy was VERY unnerving! The hours and hours of high wind was pretty scary! Thankfully, my home had no damage from Sandy. That’s amazing considering I am surrounded by trees!

  18. I lived through the Flood of 1973 in St. Louis (my mom was pregnant with me) and the Great Flood of ’93 in St. Louis (I was pregnant with my oldest son). It lasted for MONTHS! I can’t believe it didn’t make the list! I also survived the Derecho of 2012. I was living in West Virginia at the time. It took out the electricity for many days. In those days, the temperature made it to 100° each day! All the gas stations were out of gas and only two restaurants were open in at least three cities. The McDonalds that was open had cars wrapped around the building and down the street. People were fist-fighting over spots in line! I’ve never seen anything like it! We were stuck. Not enough gas to travel to another state that had electricity and no food to be found nearby.

    1. I saw that too. I didn’t know that was possible. I guess Mother Nature decided to one-up 1337 (leet speak).

  19. I was nine years old during the Columbus Day storm that hit the Pac NW. Even though there were trees down in and around town our damage was limited to removed shingles off the roofs. The following morning the neighbor kids went around collecting the shingles in piles by color and then asked the homeowners if they wanted them back. Oddly enough there were no takers.

  20. My family survived Hurricane Hazel in 1954. We lived in the Sandhills of NC. There was a tree that was threatening to fall on our home with the high winds and heavy rain. As my dad worked for the power company, he was out trying to maintain or reconnect the power supplies in our area, our neighbor, a nice police officer drove across our street and loaded each of us (mother and four small children) in his car. He drove us back to his home which was on a bit more solid and higher ground. I was five years old, and yes, I still remember it like it was yesterday.

  21. I personally went through two storms. One listed here and one not. I live in Southeastern Ohio and we went through the remnants of Hurricane Ivan and the 2012 derecho. Flooded badly in 2004 and power was out for a little while in 2012.

  22. I remember quite of few of these disastrous weather events and always watch the Weather Channel to see just what is going one around the country.
    Thank you all for your live broadcasts and the wonderful meteorologist you have at the Weather Channel. Weather is exciting. Jim Cantori and thunder snow was amazing to watch and he is just the guy who should have been there to have that amazing event happen on air. His enthusiasm for weather is contagious.

  23. I survived the Blizzard of ’78. I endured the “perfect Storm”, 1991. And I was chagrin over the Superstorm of ’93 ( snow turned to rain after one foot accumulation ) wind gusts to hurricane force with rain.

  24. I remember the last three. In 93 I was a child in Columbus, OH. We lost power and drove across town to my grandparents’, who still had power. I think I slept in my snowsuit that night after returning home.

    For the derecho I was vacationing in the md panhandle, there was a wind storm and we lost power for about an hour. Home in central md, people were without power for three days to a week.

    Sandy, central md. Sandy ended up mostly as horizontal rain. We got cabin fever after being sent home from work and decided to go out to dinner! We were some of the only people out, but some businesses were still open. I remember the governor saying they were closing the bay bridge due to winds, and I thought that was a really big deal (only bridge to md eastern shore), but sandy ultimately didn’t really impact Maryland. I was shocked to see what it did later.

  25. I experienced the 2012 derecho. I live in south east Ohio and had been watching the weather all day. This weather event still took us by surprise. The wind kicked up and the power went off and came back on. It did this three times before it went out for good. It was 7 days before the power came back on. The windstorm then blew through and brought down trees and power lines all the way to the Atlantic. It only lasted 10 minutes. Afterward the temps were in the 90s all week. It’s the only time I’ve been thankful for a cold shower. To make things liveable we stayed downstairs and turned on the window air conditioners using gas generators for power.

  26. I remember the June 2012 derecho, living in Northern Virginia. I remember the unbearable heat and humidity of that day. Around 5’oclock that day, I remember seeing the bow echo on radar moving out of Ohio and into West Virginia. I watched the storm move in on radar and all of the sudden I heard the screeching sound of a chair being blown across my deck. Then came the torrential wind-driven downpour and the unforgettable constant lightning. I was living in one of the few areas that didn’t lose power. The anchors on the news next day said that anyone watching them were lucky to be watching them.