ORLANDO, Fla. – There’s still over a month left in the 2021 hurricane season. Although the peak of the season (Sept. 10) has passed and the hurricane frequency trend is slowly going down little by little, October has historically produced its own monster hurricanes.
The last five years, there have been three hurricanes that stand out. This isn’t just due to the category or size, but rather the billions in damages they left behind.
Let’s take a look back at Matthew, Michael and Delta.
On October 8, 2016, Matthew was a Category 1 hurricane as it made landfall in North Carolina.
You may recall this storm, too, as it churned very close to the Southeast coast of the Sunshine State. The same goes for Georgia and the Carolinas before making landfall.
There was widespread damage caused by wind, storm surge and inland flooding.
The Flagler Beach Pier was destroyed. Port Canaveral and Cape Canaveral had an extreme wind warnings, with gusts up to 115 mph as the outer eye wall of Matthew approached that Friday morning.
Inland cities weren’t spared either. A large tree fell on a home in Umatilla. Over a million people statewide were without power. In Central Florida, half of the 300,000 people without power were located in Brevard county.
Matthew was a powerful Category 4 hurricane that weakend to a Category 3 as it battered the Florida coast, never making actual landfall.
In North Carolina, historic river flooding damaged 100,000 homes, businesses and other structures. This kind of flooding hadn’t been seen since Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
Matthew left an estimated $11.4 billion in damages and took 49 lives.
It’s been three years since the monster Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall on Mexico Beach, Florida.
On October 10, 2018, 160-mph winds battered the beach, along with an over 15-foot storm surge.
Where homes and businesses once stood, were piles of wood that resembled toothpicks strung about.
Tyndall Air Force Base endured the most intense eye wall winds, but the damage extended further inland, destroying agriculture during the harvest season before spreading into other states.
On the base, 484 buildings were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, including housing dormitories, leaving many airmen living in tents for months after Michael came storming through.
According to hurricane records, Michael was the third Category 4 or higher storm to make landfall in the U.S. since 2017 and the first to strike the U.S. mainland since Andrew in 1992.
Initially, Michael was rated as a Category 4 with 155 winds, but post analysis showed 160 mph winds, which led hurricane specialists to upgrade the storm to a Category 5.
Following the widespread destruction, 49 deaths were reported, along with an estimated $25.5 billion in damages.
In March 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the name Michael was retired. Names are retired when hurricanes are so destructive that recycling them would be insensitive.
Hurricane Delta was a Category 2 hurricane that many in Creole, Louisiana, won’t forget.
On October 9, 2020, just six weeks after the deadly Category 4 Hurricane Laura ravaged Lake Charles, residents found themselves facing the fury again.
In addition to the 100-mph winds, there was heavy rainfall, storm surge, and nearly a dozen EF-0 or EF-1 tornadoes that left many trying to save what little they had while wading in knee deep water after returning from evacuation.
While Delta wasn’t as strong as Laura, it brought a lot more flooding, dropping 12-18 inches of rain to southeast and central Louisiana.
Delta continued to cause damage as it moved across several states, including eastern Texas, Mississippi and Georgia.
Delta was the third named storm to make landfall in Louisiana in a single season. It was the 9th named storm to make landfall in the continental United States that year. The 2020 hurricane season continued to break that landfall record with 11 named storms striking land and a record total of 30 hurricanes before the end of the season on the 30th of November.
Hurricane Delta left $3 billion in damages and resulted in the death of five people.