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The 1780 Atlantic hurricane season ran through the summer and fall in 1780. The 1780 season was extraordinarily destructive, and was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history with over 28,000 deaths. Four different hurricanes, one in June and three in October, caused at least 1,000 deaths each;[1][2] this event has never been repeated and only in the 1893 and 2005 seasons were there two such hurricanes.[3] The season also had the deadliest Atlantic hurricane of all time, the Great Hurricane of 1780.

1780 Atlantic hurricane season
Seasonal boundaries
First system formed≤June 13, 1780
Last system dissipated≥Nov. 17, 1780
Seasonal statistics
Total storms≥ 8
Major hurricanes
(Cat. 3+)
≥ 4
Total fatalities≥ 28,000 (record high)
Total damageUnknown
Atlantic hurricane seasons
1778, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782

Landfalling storms affected the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, Bermuda, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, and the New England states.



This destructive season should be seen against a backdrop of the American Revolution, which involved hostilities in the Caribbean by the fleets of Spain, France and the Dutch Republic operating against British fleets with the concomitant greater risk of loss of life due to increased exposure of warships and transports to hazardous weather conditions. This critical coincidence is at least partially responsible for the unprecedented losses of life inflicted, especially in the three fierce hurricanes that struck in quick succession during October.[4]


San Antonio HurricaneEdit

The San Antonio Hurricane[5] is also known as the St. Lucia Hurricane. On June 13, a hurricane "caused deaths and losses" on Puerto Rico, after having also struck St. Lucia, where it killed around 4,000 to 5,000 people.[4][6] It later went on to the Dominican Republic.[5]

Louisiana HurricaneEdit

New Orleans experienced a powerful hurricane on August 24, with winds gusting over 160 mph. The hurricane completely destroyed 39 of the 43 buildings on Grand Isle, Louisiana. The eye then passed over New Orleans and severely damaged structures in what is now known as the French Quarter. The hurricane also caused harvest-ruining crop damage, severe flooding, and tornadoes across southeast Louisiana. It is believed that the hurricane killed around 25 people.[6]

St. Kitts Tropical StormEdit

On August 25, St. Kitts in the Leeward Islands was struck by a storm.[4]

Savanna-la-Mar HurricaneEdit

A strong storm formed in the southern Caribbean Sea on October 1. Shortly after, it sank the British transport ship Monarch with all hands, including several hundred Spanish prisoners. The hurricane began to move northwest towards Jamaica, where it destroyed the port of Savanna-la-Mar on October 3. Many of the town's residents gathered at the coast to watch, but the 20 foot storm surge engulfed the onlookers in addition to the docked ships and many of the town's buildings. In the nearby port village of Lucea, 400 people perished and all but two structures were destroyed; 360 people were killed in the nearby town of Montego Bay. The hurricane would later sink the British frigate Phoenix, killing 200 crew members, and ships-of-the-line Victor, Barbadoes, and Scarborough among others. It continued its direction, and made landfall in Cuba on October 4, followed by a pass over the Bahamas.[6] The storm is believed to have caused 3,000 deaths.[1][2]

The Great HurricaneEdit

The second hurricane of October 1780 formed before or on October 10. It is still referred to as "The Great Hurricane" or "Great Hurricane of the Antilles" in some places, but its official name is "San Calixto Hurricane." The hurricane devastated the island of Barbados on October 10 with 200+ mph wind gusts,[7] killing 4,300 and creating an economic depression. St. Vincent suffered a 20-foot (6 meter) storm surge. The storm went on to kill 6,000 people on the island of St. Lucia and 9,000 on Martinique, with its capital city, St. Pierre, becoming almost completely demolished. It later moved northwestward toward the island of St. Eustatius, killing 4,000 to 5,000 and devastating Puerto Rico, Dominique, and Bermuda. In total, the hurricane caused a record 22,000 deaths in the eastern Caribbean Sea and rates as the all-time deadliest hurricane in the Atlantic. The high number of fatalities is due in part to "the presence of the powerful fleets of Britain and France, both maneuvering on nearby islands to strike blows at each other's rich possessions in the Antilles."[4] The storm dissipated on or after October 18.[1]

Solano's HurricaneEdit

José Solano (1726–1806)

A powerful hurricane in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico struck a Spanish war fleet of 64 vessels under José Solano en route from Havana, Cuba to attack Pensacola, Florida, the capital of British West Florida. The ships had 4,000 men aboard under the military command of Bernardo de Gálvez, and 2,000 died.[8] The slow-moving hurricane, known to history as "Solano's hurricane", was first noted near Jamaica on October 15. Progressing northwestwards it likely crossed the western end of Cuba, before shifting northeastwards to Apalachee Bay. It struck Solano's fleet on October 20. The hurricane's dissipation is disputed as some claim it dissipated somewhere over the southeastern United States around October 22,[1] while others claim that it crossed the U.S. and finally dissipated over the North Atlantic on October 26.[9]

Lesser Antilles HurricaneEdit

In late October, a tropical cyclone struck Barbados and then St. Lucia on October 23.[4][6]

New England HurricaneEdit

Around November 17, a tropical cyclone moved up the east coast of the United States disrupting the British blockade of the New England states. It is unknown whether this storm was fully tropical.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Emanuel, Kerry A. (2005). Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN 978-0-19-514941-8.
  2. ^ a b US National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, The Deadliest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1492-1996, retrieved 17 March 2009
  3. ^ Blake, Eric; Rappaport, Edward; Landsea, Christopher (April 15, 2007). The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones from 1851 to 2006 (And Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts) (PDF) (Report). National Hurricane Center Miami. National Hurricane Center. p. 9. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e Ludlum, David M. (1963). Early American Hurricanes, 1492–1870. Boston: American Meteorological Society. p. 66.
  5. ^ a b Mújica-Baker, Frank. Huracanes y Tormentas que han afectadi a Puerto Rico (PDF). Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, Agencia Estatal para el manejo de Emergencias y Administracion de Desastres. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 1, 2015. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e Sheets, Bob; Williams, Jack (2001). Hurricane Watch Forecasting the Deadliest Storms on Earth. New York: Vintage Books. p. 19.
  7. ^ Ghosh, Palash (August 24, 2011). "1780: The Deadliest Atlantic Hurricane Season Ever". International Business Times. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
  8. ^ Ludlum, David M. (1963). Early American Hurricanes, 1492–1870. Boston: American Meteorological Society. pp. 72–73.
  9. ^ Chenoweth, Michael (2006). "A Reassessment of Historical Atlantic Basin Tropical Cyclone Activity, 1700-1855". Climatic Change. 76 (1–2): 169–240. CiteSeerX doi:10.1007/s10584-005-9005-2.