We’re right at the peak of hurricane season—a period from June 1 to Nov. 30 where most hurricanes hit—and late August through September tends to see the most activity. If you’re planning on traveling, it’s best to know where hurricanes hit and to be prepared. These are the most hurricane-prone U.S. states, according to data from the National Weather Service.
Farther north than most other states threatened by hurricanes, Virginia isn’t out of reach for destructive storms. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), from 1851 to 2004, 12 hurricanes directly hit Virginia and one of those hurricanes was considered major (Category 3). “Hurricanes come close enough to produce hurricane force winds approximately three times every 20 years,” reads a document from the National Weather Service, on hurricanes in Virginia. “Two or three times a century winds and tides produce considerable damage and significantly threaten life. Three known storms have been powerful enough to alter coastal features.”
Another northern state not typically recognized for its susceptibility to hurricanes, New York has suffered 12 direct hurricane hits, five of which were rated Category 3, according to the NWS. In particular, when New York City gets hit by even minor hurricanes, the damage can be disastrous. With a huge population and at-risk infrastructure (high rises, suspension bridges and underground tunnels), storms touching down in NYC tend to be costly and recent storms have even caused public transit shut-downs.
With coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, this southern state has been vulnerable to major hurricanes throughout history. According to the NWS, Mississippi has suffered 15 direct hits, eight of which were considered major hurricanes and one of which was a Category 5 hurricane—the most severe rating. The Category 5 storm hit in 1969 and was called Camille, it’s described by the NWS as “the second most intense hurricane of record to hit the United States.” The NWS also notes that “the actual maximum sustained winds will never be known, as the hurricane destroyed all the wind-recording instruments in the landfall area.”
This state just north of Florida has been lucky in recent history, avoiding many disastrous hurricanes. According to the Associated Press, Georgia enjoyed more than 100 years without a major hurricane, but in the 1800s, the state was hit hard and often. Since 1851, the NWS, reports that Georgia has been directly hit by 20 hurricanes, only three of which were major storms.
This southern state, like Mississippi, has a small stretch of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, which means hurricanes are a problem in Alabama. In 2004 and 2005, the state was suffered the effects of multiple major hurricanes—namely, hurricanes Ivan, Dennis and Katrina. The NWS reports that Alabama has been directly hit by 22 hurricanes and six of those were considered major storms.
Set on the East coast, South Carolina has seen the effects of hurricanes more than a few times throughout history. In recent history, the state has avoided major, destructive storms, but it hasn’t always been that way. According to the NWS, South Carolina has been directly hit by 31 hurricanes and six of those were reportedly major storms.
With a professional hockey team named after these storms, you know North Carolina has a history dealing with hurricanes. The NWS reports that the state has been directly hit by 46 hurricanes, 12 of which were major storms. The worst hurricane for North Carolina came in September of 1999; Hurricane Floyd was responsible for the death of 52 people and left $6 billion in damage.
“Some of the deadliest tropical storms and hurricanes to ever hit the United States have struck the Louisiana shoreline,” reads a report by David Roth at the NWS. The one that comes to mind immediately is, of course, Hurricane Katrina. “Katrina will likely be recorded as the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States...producing catastrophic damage and untold casualties in the New Orleans area and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” the report continues. “As of August 10, 2006, the death toll was designated as 1,577 within the borders of the Pelican state. Damages totaled $81 billion within the United States.” Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana was directly hit by 49 hurricanes and 18 of them were considered major.
Home to “the deadliest weather disaster in United States history”—the Galveston Hurricane, recorded in 1900, hit the coast of Texas and continued on through the state, reportedly killing between 6,000 and 12,000 people. Including that very deadly storm, Texas has seen 59 hurricanes and 19 of those were considered major storms.
The number one most hurricane-prone state is Florida. According to the NWS, “40 percent of all U.S. hurricanes and major hurricanes were in Florida.” Though the state hasn’t seen any major hurricanes in the past 10 years, Hurricane Wilma in 2005 caused major damage. Since 1851, the state has been directly hit by 110 hurricanes, 35 of which were considered major storms.