Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall in southern New Jersey or Delaware late Monday or early Tuesday and has already killed 43 people in the Caribbean. The storm will soon meet up with a cold front coming from the northwest and a high pressure system from Greenland, fueling it with enough energy to wreak havoc on the East Coast.
Although it's too soon to tell how much damage can be expected, officials aren't taking any chances issuing evacuation orders. Click through to see some of the most damaging hurricanes that have pounded the United States.
|The Hurricane of 1900|
The deadliest natural disaster to ever strike the United States resulted in an estimated 8,000 direct fatalities when it made landfall in Galveston, Texas.
The storm system was so strong, it maintained plenty of power by the time it reached New York City, with winds reported to be 65 mph.
It wasn't until 1953 when the United States began naming storms after women. By 1979, the practice had expanded to include both male and females names, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The Hurricane of 1900 is the second most costly hurricane when adjusted to compare with 2005 dollars, when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.
|The Great New England Hurricane|
The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 slammed into Long Island, N.Y., without warning as a category 3 storm. It had been nearly a century since New England had been pummeled by a major hurricane, and many did not see the storm coming.
At least 700 people were killed, while 9,000 homes and buildings were destroyed. The storm was so powerful, it created 12 new inlets on Long Island.
Patricia Shuttleworth remembered how quickly the hurricane happened. She was 10 years old on Sept. 21, 1938, and was staying with a friend's family on the South Shore of Long Island, near her home in Westhampton Beach.
"Both sides of the house were ripped off by water. The central part, where we were, stood, thank God. An adult cut a hole in the roof for air. There was nothing we could do but pray," she told ABC News.
South Florida was forever changed on Aug. 24, 1992, when Hurricane Andrew made landfall. The category 5 storm carved a deadly and destructive path, damaging or decimating an estimated 600,000 homes and businesses.
It was the most destructive hurricane to hit Florida in decades and changed how forecasters tracked storms and how people prepared.
When Andrew struck, forecasts were for three days and contained a track error of up to 300 miles, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hurricane forecasts are now long-range, up to five days, and more reliable due to modern technology.
In South Florida, where roofing materials became missiles, building codes were updated, ensuring the new homes and businesses constructed during the lengthy rebuilding process could survive future hurricanes.
At its peak, Hurricane Ivan was the size of Texas. The hurricane battered the Venezuela and the Caribbean before it made landfall as a category 3 storm in Alabama.
The storm spawned a record 119 tornadoes from Florida to Pennsylvania during a three-day outbreak. Ivan caused an estimated $18.8 billion in damage.
The Gulf coast was devastated in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina made landfall, taking the lives of more than 1,800 people and leaving more than $100 billion worth of damage in its wake.
Many of the deaths occurred in New Orleans, when the levee system failed, creating catastrophic flooding.
The days after the storm were filled with looting and violence, including an incident on the Danziger Bridge in which two unarmed civilians were gunned down by members of the New Orleans Police Department.
Hurricane Katrina underscored the need for preparedness and communication. Local, state and federal governments came under fire for a perceived lack of preparation and mismanagement. The lessons learned from Katrina were put into practice sooner than officials had hoped, when Hurricane Rita pounded the Gulf Coast less than a month later.
Hurricane Wilma was the third hurricane of the 2005 season to reach category 5 status and was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic, according to the National Climactic Data Center.
In October, the storm pounded Central America before making landfall a second time in Florida with 120 mph winds. Wilma inflicted an estimated $20.6 billion damage in the United States and killed at least 62 people in its entire trajectory.
Seven years to the day that Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Isaac made landfall. Although not nearly as devastating as Katrina, the 2012 storm brought unrelenting rain and storm surges as high as 11 feet.
Some locals who underestimated the power of Isaac, which had been downgraded to a tropical storm, were rescued from their rooftops as floodwaters threatened to overtake their homes.
The storm battered the Caribbean before it made its way to the southeastern United States, leaving at least 41 dead and an estimated $2 billion worth of damage in its path.