Special Report

Every Major US City's Worst Weather Disaster

Source: NOAA

5. Phoenix, Arizona
> Total 2018 population: 1,660,272
> Name of event: Tropical Storm Octave
> Fatalities: 14

In late September and early October of 1983, Tropical Storm Octave dumped more than 6 inches of rain around Phoenix, resulting in the flooding of the Gila River and 14 deaths.

Source: Ed Edahl / FEMA / Public Domain

4. Houston, Texas
> Total 2018 population: 2,325,502
> Name of event: Hurricane Rita (Evacuation)
> Fatalities: 107

Unlike most storms on this list, the death toll from Hurricane Rita in 2005 was caused by the response to the storm rather than the storm itself. When 2.5 million residents tried to evacuate the city on the order of officials, gridlock led to 107 deaths — among them 24 elderly people whose bus overheated and caught fire — while the storm itself barely touched Houston.

Source: Ralf-Finn Hestoft / CORBIS / Corbis via Getty Images

3. Chicago, Illinois
> Total 2018 population: 2,705,994
> Name of event: The 1995 Heat Wave
> Fatalities: 739

In the summer of 1995, a record-breaking heat wave hit Chicago. On July 13, O’Hare Airport reported a record high temperature of 104 degrees.

Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / Public Domain

2. Los Angeles, California
> Total 2018 population: 3,990,456
> Name of event: The LA River Flood
> Fatalities: 144

Record-breaking rain from two storm systems hit Southern California, causing the Los Angeles River to flood and destroy homes and bridges in March 1938.

Source: Wallace G. Levison / LIFE Photo Archive / Public Domain

1. New York, New York
> Total 2018 population: 8,398,748
> Name of event: Great Blizzard of 1888
> Fatalities: 200

The Great Blizzard of 1888 affected much of the Eastern Seaboard. New York City reported wind gusts as high as 85 mph, and Wall Street shut down for three consecutive days.