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The San Felipe Segundo hurricane

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The Okeechobee hurricane, also known as the San Felipe Segundo hurricane, was one of the deadliest hurricanes in the recorded history of the North Atlantic basin. The fourth tropical cyclone, third hurricane, and only major hurricane of the 1928 season, this system developed just offshore the west coast of Africa on September 6. Initially a tropical depression, it strengthened into a tropical storm later that day, shortly before passing south of the Cape Verde Islands. Further intensification was slow and halted by late on September 7. About 48 hours later, the storm resumed strengthening and became a Category 1 hurricane on the modern-day Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. Still moving westward, the system reached Category 4 intensity before striking Guadeloupe on September 12. There, the storm brought “great destruction” and 1,200 deaths. The islands of Martinique, Montserrat, and Nevis also reported damage and fatalities, but not nearly as severe as in Guadeloupe.

Around midday on September 13, the storm strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane and peaked with sustained winds of 160 mph (260 km/h). About six hours later, the system made landfall in Puerto Rico; it remains the only recorded Category 5 to strike the island as of 2018. Very strong winds resulted in severe damage in Puerto Rico. Throughout the island, an estimated 24,728 homes were destroyed and 192,444 were damaged, leaving over 500,000 people homeless. Heavy rainfall also led to extreme damage to vegetation and agriculture. On Puerto Rico alone, there were 312 deaths and about $50 million USD ($713 million today) in damage. While crossing the island and emerging into the Atlantic, the storm weakened slightly, falling to Category 4 intensity. The storm began crossing through the Bahamas on September 16, where it resulted in 18 fatalities.

Early on September 17, the storm made landfall near West Palm Beach, Florida, with winds of 145 mph (233 km/h). In the city, more than 1,711 homes were destroyed. Elsewhere in the county, impact was most severe around Lake Okeechobee. The storm surge caused water to pour out of the southern edge of the lake, flooding hundreds of square miles as high as 20 feet (6.1 m) above ground. Numerous houses and buildings were swept away in the cities of Belle Glade, Canal Point, Chosen, Pahokee, and South Bay. At least 2,500 people drowned, while damage was estimated at $25 million. While crossing Florida, the system weakened significantly, falling to Category 1 intensity late on September 17. It curved north-northeastward and briefly re-emerged into the Atlantic on September 18, but soon made another landfall near Edisto Island, South Carolina, with winds of 85 mph (140 km/h). Early on the following day, the system weakened to a tropical storm and became extra tropical over North Carolina hours later. Overall, the system caused $100 million in damage and at least 4,079 deaths

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