One Of The Deadliest Hurricanes In U.S. History Hits Galveston, Texas

Photo shows what remains of a building completely destroyed by the 1900 flood and hurricane. (Getty Images)

Hurricanes may be getting stronger and more frequent, but some of the worst storms happened more than a century ago. In fact, the 1900 Galveston hurricane was one of the nation's deadliest.

The Confusion Before The Storm

On the morning of September 4, 1900, warning reports began to pour into the weather bureau office in Galveston from the Washington headquarters that a tropical storm had recently moved over Cuba. At the time, Havana was home to one of the most advanced weather observation stations on Earth, but the U.S. had a tense relationship with Cuba following the Spanish-American War, so weather bureau director Willis Moore blocked all incoming telegraphs from Cuba. By the time the U.S. was aware of the hurricane, it had traveled well into the Caribbean.

Local offices of the weather bureau were not allowed to issue storm warnings without permission from the central office nor use scary words like "tornado" or "hurricane" for fear of inciting unnecessary panic, so when the more than 37,000 residents of Galveston woke up to a churning ocean but relatively clear skies, they saw no cause for concern. After all, Galveston weather bureau director Isaac Cline had once insisted that serious hurricanes couldn't reach Galveston, and he had denied the reports from Washington. He later claimed that he rode his horse up and down the beaches of Galveston Island to warn the people of the approaching hurricane.