|Category 8 hurricane (SSHS)|
|Damage||$3.5 trillion (2015 USD)|
Hurricane Joseph was the most destructive hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season, as well as the deadliest hurricane in the Atlantic basin in recorded history, the deadliest and costliest natural disaster in U.S. history (and one of the most devastating natural disasters in world history), and the most intense tropical cyclone on record. The hurricane was also considered to be the strongest tropical cyclone in world history, with sustained winds exceeding 250 mph (400 km/h), a wind speed that is only seen in tornadoes. Hurricane Joseph was the first tropical cyclone to be rated a category 7. It was rated by the National Hurricane Center to help emphasize the need to evacuate in areas that would suffer in the hurricane.
Hurricane Joseph started out as a tropical wave coming off of Africa on August 31. The wave generated a series of storms that began clustering, forming a tropical depression on September 1, moving at a speed of 5 mph (8 km/h). Twelve hours later, on September 2, the depression quickly transformed into a tropical storm, and it was given a name: Joseph. The storm developed into a hurricane at six in the morning, and by the afternoon was a borderline category 1/category 2 storm. The situation escalated as the hurricane further intensified, and by September 3, it was already a category 3, with winds of approximately 125 miles per hour. The hurricane then met an area of wind shear on September 4, which cut the storm's strength and turned it into a category 2, with winds of up to 105 mph (175 km/h), but the hurricane also sped up, gaining a ground speed of 15 miles per hour. The hurricane continued to intensify, though, and by the time September 5 arrived, the hurricane was a category 5, with winds exceeding 160 miles per hour. It gained a ground speed of 20 miles per hour.
By the time it hit the Bahamas on September 9, it was a Category 6, with winds reaching 200 mph (320 kilometers) and a pressure of 878 millibars. Hurricane-force winds extended for 100 miles (160 km/h), and tropical-storm-force winds extended 225 miles (360 km), with an eye that was 25 miles across, and an eyewall of 25 miles. The hurricane hit the area in the middle of the day, trapping thousands who were evacuating the islands. The hurricane's 190 mph (305 km/h) winds leveled most of the cities in the nation, including Nassau, which was leveled by the 25-foot (7.6 meter) storm surge and 185 mph (300 km/h) winds. The nation was devastated, with over 25,000 dead. Many of the people died as the winds actually crushed thousands of cars, which complicated evacuations.
Hours later, at 1830 hours EST, the hurricane hit Southern Florida as an intensifying hurricane, with winds of up to 210 mph (336 km), a pressure of 870 millibars, and a storm surge of 40 feet (12 meters). Many witnesses on the coasts of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and several other cities said that the water "rose over two stories in a matter of seconds, almost like a tidal wave." Inland, the winds were so powerful that "cars were literally flying in the air, and people were getting blown around." Many homes literally collapsed just due to the high winds, while others disappeared beneath the waves. As the hurricane passed through Southern Florida at 25 mph (40 km/h), the hurricane killed thousands more, and left a path of death and destruction 120 miles (190 km) long and dozens of miles wide. Many of the fatalities occurred in Cape Coral and Fort Myers when 175 mph winds collapsed thousands of structures. By the time the hurricane passed over Florida, the entire width of Southern Florida had been devastated, with over 50,000 dead, and over 400,000 buildings damaged or destroyed. On September 10, at 0045 hours EST, the hurricane exited Florida, with winds reaching 170 mph (280 km/h), and a pressure of 902 millibars.
As the hurricane exited into the Gulf of Mexico, where the average temperature, by now, had reached 88*F (31*C), with some spots reaching 91.5*F (33*C), which meant the hurricane was turbocharged. In less than 24 hours, the pressure dropped 110 millibars, and the hurricane grew to a massive size. By the morning of September 11th, several unmanned weather drones sent into the storm by the National Weather Service (and the military) recorded a record-breaking gust of 325 mph (520 km/h), a pressure of 793 millibars, and a sustained wind of 257 mph (411 km/h), making it the strongest, most intense storm in recorded history. Ocean waves exceeded 180 feet (55 meters), and the hurricane was massive in size; hurricane-force winds extended 175 miles (280 km) from the eye, and tropical-storm-force winds extended 400 miles (640 km), with the eye reaching 40 miles in diameter and the eyewall reaching 50 miles in diameter. The hurricane was moving at a speed of up to 25 mph (40 km/h).
On September 12, at 0130 hours Central Standard Time, Hurricane Joseph slammed into Texas, just 30 miles southwest of Galveston. At landfall, the hurricane brought winds of 235 mph (378 km/h), a pressure of 830 millibars, and a storm surge of 70 feet (21 meters), which grew to over 130 feet (40 meters) as it passed through Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel. As the hurricane passed through the area, the hurricane basically blasted some of the homes to pieces even before the storm surge caused any damage. In Houston, even though the most powerful winds were in Galveston and some of the Galveston Bay cities, Houston was recording winds of between 180 mph and 190 mph. Two hours after smashing the southern areas, Houston experienced winds of up to 235 mph. In the process, every single window in the downtown area was shattered. Structures that were already heavily damaged simply collapsed, while they city's skyscrapers, including the JP Morgan Chase Tower, lost their "shell". Rainfall was so intense that the hurricane drowned the entire region in at least 15 feet of water. Several hours after the hurricane struck, it left, and it left a path of destruction throughout the rest of Texas, including Dallas. The hurricane was strong enough to maintain category 2 force in Little Rock, Arkansas, where it caused a tornado outbreak of epic proportions, killing thousands more
By the time the hurricane left, it left 325,000 dead in Texas, including 250,000 in Houston, fifty-five thousand dead in the other Galveston Bay cities, and 20,000 others in other areas. The hurricane leveled over one million structures, and left millions homeless. Damage in the region exceeded $1 trillion.
The hurricane, all told, killed 400,000 people directly, left 25,000 indirectly dead (mostly from tornadoes), and left 25,000 more missing. Damages have exceeded $1.5 trillion. The storm had literally washed away most of Galveston Island, making it almost impossible to rebuild on the island. It is expected to take years for the regions affected by the storm to recover.
- Please note: Yes, this is fictional! You don't have to worry about this event ever occurring, EVER! Just be prepared for the real case scenarios.