The Great Hurricane of 1780

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The Great Hurricane of 1780

French troops are still stationed at Fort Saint-Louis in Fort-de-France, Martinique. This 17th-century fort actually survived the Great Hurricane of 1780.

© Philip Gould/CORBIS

The United States as we know it was just a gleam in George Washington's eye when the Great Hurricane of 1780 blasted its way through the Caribbean, killing approximately 22,000 people. Among the dead were British and American soldiers who had been skirmishing in warships scattered throughout the region as part of the Revolutionary War.

While there isn't much data on record regarding the hurricane's speed or rainfall, what we do know is that the storm bombarded several Caribbean islands, including Barbados, Martinique and St. Lucia over six days in October [source: History.com]. One local observer wrote that the hurricane stripped bark off of trees, which has caused some to speculate the winds must have topped 200 mph (320 kph) [source: Depradine]. This massive storm is considered the deadliest hurricane of all time.

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