October 10, 1780 — Great Hurricane of 1780 (also known as Hurricane San Calixto II), killed 20,000 to 30,000 in Caribbean today. Hitting Barbados first, it remains the Atlantic’s deadliest recorded hurricane in history.
According to HurricaneScience.org, forecasters and historians believe that the Great Hurricane of 1780 initially formed near the Cape Verde Islands on October 9, 1780. It 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 saw winds exceeding 321.9 km/h (200 mph) when it passed over Barbardos late on October 10 before moving past Martinique and St. Lucia early on October 11. Three days later, it passed near Puerto Rico and over the Dominican Republic (then Santo Domingo), causing heavy damage near the coastlines. On October 18, the system turned to the northeast, passing 258 km (160 mi) southeast of Bermuda before being last observed on October 20 southeast of Newfoundland, Canada.
Thousands of deaths were reported on each Caribbean island: 4,500 deaths occurred on Barbados (nearly every building on the island was leveled), 6,000 lives were lost on St. Lucia (the island was essentially flattened), and approximately 9,000 died on Martinique. Over 27,500 total fatalities were estimated across the Lesser Antilles Islands as a result of this storm.
Words of Wisdom
Hurricane season brings a humbling reminder that, despite our technologies, most of nature remains unpredictable.