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The Great Hurricane Of 1780

January 2, 2015

By Paul Homewood  





The Great Hurricane of 1780, also known as Huracán San Calixto, the Great Hurricane of the Antilles, and the 1780 Disaster is probably the deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. Between 20,000 and 22,000 people died when the storm passed through the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean 10–16 October. Specifics on the hurricane’s track and strength are unknown since the official Atlantic hurricane database only goes back to 1851.

The hurricane struck Barbados with winds possibly exceeding 320 km/h (200 mph), before moving past Martinique, St Lucia, and St Eustacius; thousands of deaths were reported on the islands. Coming in the midst of the American Revolution, the storm caused heavy losses to British and French fleets. The hurricane later passed near Puerto Rico and over the eastern portion of Hispaniola. There, it caused heavy damage near the coastlines. It ultimately turned to the northeast before being last observed on 20 October southeast of Newfoundland.

The death toll from the Great Hurricane alone exceeds that of many entire decades of Atlantic hurricanes. Estimates are marginally higher than for Hurricane Mitch, the second-deadliest Atlantic storm, for which figures are likely more accurate. The hurricane was part of the disastrous 1780 hurricane season, with two other deadly storms occurring in the month of October.



Encyclopaedia Britannica report:


The hurricane took place before modern tracking of tropical storms began, but historical accounts indicate that the storm started in the Atlantic and on October 10 reached Barbados, where it destroyed nearly all the homes on the island and left few trees standing. Witness reports in Barbados and Saint Lucia claimed that even sturdy stone buildings and forts were completely lost to the wind, with heavy cannons being carried hundreds of feet. The storm traveled northwest across the Antilles, causing destruction throughout the region; on some islands entire towns disappeared. The storm ravaged Martinique, taking an estimated 9,000 lives. On the island of Sint Eustatius an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people were killed. During this time, European naval forces were concentrated in the Caribbean because of the American Revolution, and both British and French forces sustained particularly large losses, with more than 40 French vessels sunk near Martinique and roughly 4,000 soldiers dead. As the storm continued north, it damaged or sank many other ships that were returning to Europe.


Wayne Neeley, in his book, The Great Hurricane of 1780, writes of how Sir George Rodney, British Admiral of the Fleet, described the events:







A frightening reminder of how we should never underestimate the power of nature.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    January 2, 2015 7:41 pm

    Even todays structures, defences and communications a similar hurricane would leave the vast majority of the populations at risk.

  2. David permalink
    January 2, 2015 7:57 pm

    In 1491 there was a hurricane that wiped out Holland killing 10,000 people…1864 hurricane wiped out the union ships…always had hurricanes but now it is us humans and co2 causing them

  3. Brian H permalink
    January 4, 2015 12:22 am

    Just weather. Climate Change is proven by the trivial warming seen recently.

  4. October 10, 2015 12:00 pm

    The 1780 hurricane is not PROBABLY the deadliest on record. It IS the deadliest on record.

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