The 1928 Great Okeechobee hurricane was the second deadliest disaster in U.S. history and remains one of the 10 most intense storms documented to make landfall in the United States. It is also the only recorded hurricane of Category 5 strength to make landfall in Puerto Rico.
After causing extensive property damage in the Virgin Islands and Guadeloupe on September 12, the massive, powerful storm crept across Puerto Rico on Sept. 13 for 8 hours, demolishing thousands of homes. Were it to recur today, the damage to Puerto Rico alone from this storm would be more than USD 55 billion.
The hurricane made landfall in West Palm Beach, Florida, on September 16 with maximum sustained winds of nearly 150 mph and a recorded atmospheric pressure of 929 mb, bringing a 10-foot storm surge. Coastal damage in Southern Florida was catastrophic, particularly where the eyewall lingered near landfall. The most extreme destruction occurred at Lake Okeechobee, where storm surges from Category 4 winds breached the dike, flooding an area 7 miles long, leaving thousands homeless and more than 4,000 dead.