Although this is based on Palm Beach County I think it is useful in many places around Florida.
The Case of the Disappearing Ancestor: You've done your research and can track your ancestor up until 1920. They're living in Palm Beach County - and then they just disappear. You can't even find a grave for them. You should consider the possibility that they were a victim of the 1928 Hurricane that killed close to 2000 people in Palm Beach County. Many of the victims were never identified and buried in mass graves. A look at the number of official death records for the county for the years 1927-1929 hints at how many victims of the 1928 hurricane were never identified.
Year Number of Deaths
Nineteenth-Century Storms, 1800-1899
August 24, 1851: Made landfall in the panhandle as a category one hurricane with approximately 70 knot winds. Overall, the maximum winds were 100 knots or a category 3 on the safer-simpson scale.
September 12,1852: Made landfall near the Tampa-St. Petersberg area as a strong tropical storm
October 10, 1852: Made landfall as a weak category one hurricane with winds estimated at 80 knots just east of Apalachacola.
October 21, 1853: The eighth hurricane of the 1853 season passed just off the northern Florida coast near Jacksonville. At its closest, the hurricane was a moderate category two storm with winds estimated to be around 90 knots.
September 8, 1854: The third hurricane of the 1854 season parralleled Florida's east coastline from Daytona Beach to Jacksonville on its way to making landfall just south of the Georgia-South Carolina state line the next day. During the pass, the hurricane had category three winds.
August 31, 1856: The fifth hurricane of the 1856 season made landfall near Panama City, Florida as a category one storm.
September 15, 1858: The third hurricane of the 1858 season made landfall just south of the Tampa Bay area as a tropical storm. The storm then crossed the peninsula, exiting near Cape Canaveral as a tropical storm later that day.
October 17, 1859: The seventh storm of the 1859 season made landfall near Ft. Lauderdale as a tropical storm and dissipated over central southern Florida.
October 28, 1859: The eighth storm of the season was first tracked as a category one storm off the coast of Florida near Daytona Beach.
August 16,1861: The second storm of the 1861 season passed over the Florida Keys as a category one storm.
November 1, 1861: The eighth storm of the season made landfall as a tropical storm just north of Chokoloskee on the southwest Florida coastline. It retained its tropical storm status as it exited just south of Cape Canaveral later that day.
September 17, 1863: The sixth storm of the season passed through the Straits of Florida between Ft. Lauderdale and Grand Bahama Island as a tropical storm.
October 23, 1865: The seventh storm of the season made landfall as a category two hurricane in extreme southern Florida after passing over the Florida Keys. It weakened to a category one just as it exited the state near Ft. Lauderdale
October 6, 1867: The seventh storm of the 1867 season paralleled the coast of the Florida panhandle as a category one hurricane before making landfall near the mouth of the Steinhatchee River later that day as a weak category one or strong tropical storm.
October 4, 1868: The second storm of the 1868 season made landfall just south of Panama City as a tropical storm and retained its tropical storm status as it passed back over open ocean on the Georgia coastline.
October 9-11, 1870: The sixth storm of the 1870 season passed just south of the Florida Keys as it slowly tracked northeastward as a category two hurricane.
October 21, 1870: The ninth storm of the season made landfall near Chokoloskee as a category one hurricane and weakened to a strong tropical storm or a weak category one hurricane by the time it exited near Palm Beach.
June 1, 1871: The first storm of the 1871 season passed over the Florida Keys on a generally westward track as a tropical storm soon after it was first tracked.
August 17-19, 1871: The third storm of the season made landfall near Palm Beach on the 17th as a category three hurricane before trekking up the center of the state weakening to a tropical storm as it passed near Gainesville in northern central Florida. Afterwhich, the storm turned northeast and exited on the Georgia coastline on the 19th before looping around and making landfall in almost the same location on the 23rd as a tropical storm.
August 25-26, 1871: The fourth storm of the season made landfall as a category two hurricane near Palm Beach on the 25th, passed across Central Florida before following the coast near the mouth of the Steinhatchee River as a tropical storm the next day. The storm then passed over Tallahassee as a tropical storm before exiting just north of the South Carolina-Georgia state line as a tropical depression and tracking just offshore past the outerbanks as a tropical storm.
September 6, 1871: The sixth storm of the season made landfall as a category one hurricane just south of the mouth of the Steinhatchee River and exited near Jacksonville as a tropical storm the next day.
October 5, 1871: The seventh storm of the season made landfall as a tropical storm just south of Tallahassee and later exited over the coast of South Carolina.
October 23, 1872: The fifth storm of the 1872 season made landfall near Tampa as a tropical storm and retained this status when it exited near Cape Canaveral later that day.
June 2, 1873: The first storm of the 1873 season made landfall just north of the Florida-Georgia state line as a tropical storm.
September 19, 1873: The third storm of the season made landfall just south of Tallahassee as a category one hurricane and later exited as a tropical storm over the southern coast of South Carolina.
September 23, 1873: The fourth storm of the season made landfall as a tropical storm near Tampa and retained that status as it exited later that day north of Daytona Beach.
October 6-7, 1873: The fifth storm of the season made landfall near Fort Myers as a category three hurricane and exited later that day as a category one hurricane just south of Cape Canaveral.
September 27-28, 1874: The sixth storm of the 1874 season made landfall as a category one hurricane near Yankeetown and, after briefly being downgraded to a tropical stom, exited later that day as a category one near the Florida-Georgia state line.
September 14, 1875: The third storm of the 1875 season passed just south of Key West and the Dry Tortugas on a northwestward track as a tropical storm.
September 27, 1875: The fourth storm of the season made landfall as a tropical storm near Panama City before quickly dissipating.
September 15-16, 1876: A hurricane well offshore with some impact over the land areas and local coastal waters. The second storm of the 1876 season passed offshore between Ft. Lauderdale and Grand Bahama Island as a tropical storm.
October 3, 1877: The fourth storm of the season made landfall as a category two storm just west of Apalachicola soon after weakening from a category three hurricane just offshore. The storm then tracked overland north-northeastward, becoming extratropical over central North Carolina and exiting on the coast of Delaware.
October 20, 1876: The fifth storm of the season made landfall as a category two hurricane near Chokoloskee, exiting later that day as a category one hurricane just north of Palm Beach.
September 19, 1877: The second storm of the 1877 season made landfall as a category one hurricane just east of Pensacola after crossing southern Louisiana and tracking along the gulf coast. The storm later exited over the Georgia coastline as a tropical storm.
October 3, 1877: Northeast Florida - tropical storm. There was eighteen feet of water on St. Johns Bar near Jacksonville. For several days the severe gale impacted the wheels of trade and deluged the affected area.
September 11-12, 1878: Northeast Florida - hurricane. Passed just offshore. Produced northeast gales and the tide backed up into the streets of Jacksonville. Wrecks were strewn out from Cape Canaveral to Amelia Island.
October 21, 1878: The eleventh storm of the season passed right along the coast of Key Largo, possibly making landfall, as a category one hurricane and then followed the coast up to Palm Beach where it moved out into the Atlantic.
August 29-31, 1880: Northeast Florida (South of St. Augustine) tropical storm. Northeast Florida coastal waters - hurricane. Severe in Palm Beach and Okeechobee region. 68 dead near St. Augustine due to the wreck of the steamship Veracruz.
October 8, 1880: The ninth storm of the season made landfall just south of Yankeetown as a category one hurricane and exited as a tropical storm near St. Augustine later that day.
September 9-10, 1882: North Florida - tropical storm which made landfall near Pensacola. Despite the distance from the point of landfall, a tornado apparently formed on an outer rainband and moved through Darbyville (about 30 miles west of Jacksonville) on the 10th at 9:50 p.m. This event killed one person, injured several and destroyed a number of houses.
August 23-24, 1885: Category One hurricane that tracked up the entire east coast of Florida from Ft. Lauderdale to Jacksonville. Landfall as a major hurricane in South Carolina. Maximum wind at Downtown Jacksonville at 40 mph. The storm intensified during it's trek up the coast before making landfall in South Carolina.
June 20-21, 1886: Cat 2 Hurricane - Interior North Florida. Made landfall near St. Marks. Affected area includes region west of Gainesville and Lake City.
October 10-11, 1888: Northeast Florida - tropical storm. The storm destroyed the Beach House Hotel on Fort George Island. The tide rose 9 feet in 30 minutes at Cedar Key, winds estimated at 75 mph.
August 27-28, 1893: Hurricane for North Florida (and Georgia). The storm made landfall south of Tybee Island. One of the great weather related natural disasters. Up to 2,500 perished along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts. Accompanied by a tremendous surge which completely submerged many of the Sea Islands. It passed to the east of downtown Jacksonville by 45-60 statute miles and offshore of St. Simons Island by 25-30 statute miles. 9 cottages blown down at Mayport, may have destroyed the remains of the original lighthouse at Mayport.
October 12, 1893: Hurricane in the Northeast Florida coastal waters and tropical storm on the Northeast Florida coast. A major hurricane passed 60-90 miles offshore of Jacksonville. Maximum velocity at downtown Jacksonville was reported to be 48 mph but the storm was reported as more severe in Mayport. A storm tide was pushed up the St. Johns River with the low tide near the normal high tide mark. Some street flooding in St. Augustine. Reports from the Jacksonville weather office records indicate that Mayport suffered severely.
September 26, 1894: Hurricane, Northeast Florida. The storm came overland from Key West, exiting south of St. Augustine. The storm wrecked the framework of the (under construction) Union Station train terminal. Winds in Jacksonville were tropical storm strength . All of the wharves and docks in Mayport were swept away and many structures in Pablo Beach and St. Augustine suffered severe damage. The river tide was 3 feet above normal high tide and streets were flooded. Local Jacksonville weather office station records report that great damage was done at St. Augustine, Mayport and Pablo Beach.
October 9, 1894: Tropical Storm, Northeast Florida. Tropical Storm strength at Jacksonville with maximum winds of 49 mph, gusts to 56 mph. Once again from local station records, much damage was done but not as much as in September storm. Damage to wharves and small boats about $5,000.
September 29, 1896: Major hurricane affecting interior North Florida and Northeast Florida. The hurricane came overland from Cedar Key.
100 killed. This storm moved inland north of Cedar Key and progressed northward across Lake City, Florida. and Jesup, Georgia. Period reports indicate this was a major event over land. After the eye passed over Lake City the winds there were estimated to be 150 mph, although that value must be used with extreme caution. Tremendous destruction occurred in a 50 mile wide swath from Cedar Key to Savannah, with most of the damage occurring east of the center. The center appears to have made landfall near the mouth of the Suwannee River between 6 and 6:30 AM and passed across Fort White at 7:30 AM and Lake City around 8 AM . The center was later identified at Guyton, Ga, west of Savannah, between 12:30 and 12:45 PM. Maximum wind speeds at downtown Jacksonville were southeast at 70 mph (60 statute miles east of the storm center).
October 2, 1898: Northeast Florida - Hurricane making landfall at Cumberland Island. Severe impacts in Florida were restricted to the extreme northeast portion of the state. The Fernandina waterfront was heavily damaged with a possible 12' storm surge. It was reported that 4 feet of water flowed into the office of the local newspaper, The Mirror. This event caused the storm surge of record for most points in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia.
July 30, 1899: The second storm of the 1899 season made its first landfall near Key Largo as a tropical storm. It then skirted the coast before making landfall two days later as a category two hurricane near Apalachicola.
August 13-14, 1899: The third storm of the season passed off the east coast as a slow moving category three hurricane. The hurricane lasted for thirty-two days during which it gained a maximum intensity of category four status and during the later half of its life, varied between tropical and extratropical status.
October 5, 1899: The sixth storm of the season made landfall as a tropical storm near Tampa Bay and exited near Daytona Beach.
Florida Hurricanes 1900-1939
September 5, 1900: The Great Galvenston Hurricane of 1900, the first storm of the 1900 season, passed over the extreme western end of the Florida Keys as a tropical storm. It made landfall in Galvenston, Texas, on September 8 as a category four hurricane, resulting in massive amounts of damage and fatalities.
September 11-14, 1903: The third storm of the 1903 season made its first landfall as a category one hurricane near Fort Lauderdale and exited the next day as a tropical storm just south of Tampa Bay. The storm made its second landfall as a category one hurricane near Panama City on the thirteenth.
June 17, 1906: The second storm of the season made landfall in extreme southern Florida after tracking along the Florida Keys. It retained its category one hurricane status as it passed over the coastline and exited near Fort Lauderdale.
October 17-18, 1906: made landfall as a category three hurricane in extreme southern Florida after tracking along the Florida Keys, the storm then exited as a category two near Fort Lauderdale. The northbound storm reversed direction during the twentieth as it weakened from a category one to a tropical storm before making its second Florida mainland landfall near Jacksonville on the twenty-first.
October 11, 1909: The tenth storm of the season passed eastward along the southern shores of the Florida Keys as a category three hurricane before crossing the northern Bahamas and heading out to sea.
October 17-18, 1910: Made landfall as a strong category two hurricane near Fort Myers after passing over the Dry Tortugas as a category four hurricane. The storm then followed the eastern seaboard as a tropical storm before moving out to sea near the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
September 4, 1915: Landfall as a category one hurricane near Apalachicola.
October 18, 1916: The thirteenth storm of the season made landfall as a category three hurricane near the Florida-Alabama border.
September 28-29, 1917: The third storm of the 1917 season made landfall as a weak category two storm near Destin.
September 9-10, 1919: Passed just to the south of Key West as a newly upgraded category four hurricane. The storm passed on into the Gulf of Mexico and eventually took a northerly turn and made landfall near Corpus Christi on September 14th as a Category 3 hurricane. The death toll was estimated at 600-900 people, 500 of which were aboard ships lost in the storm. Damages were reported to be estimated at $22 million.
October 25, 1921: The sixth storm of the 1921 season made landfall as a category two hurricane just north of Tampa Bay after weakening from a category four hurricane just offshore. The storm exited near Cape Canaveral as a category one hurricane.
September 15, 1924: The fourth storm of the 1924 season made landfall as a weak category one hurricane near Panama City.
October 20-21, 1924: The seventh storm of the season made landfall as a category one hurricane near Chokoloskee shortly after weakening from a category three hurricane and exited near Fort Lauderdale as a tropical storm.
July 27-28, 1926: The first storm of the 1926 season made landfall just north of Palm Beach as a category two hurricane after having weakened from a category four while passing over the Bahamas. The storm tracked northward inland and eventually disapated over the eastern Great Lakes.
September 18, 1926: The sixth storm of the season made landfall as a category four hurricane near Miami and exited near Fort Myers as a category three hurricane. The storm later skirted the coastline near the Florida-Alabama border, still as a category three, before making landfall near the Alabama-Mississippi border.
October 21, 1926: The tenth storm of the season passed just south of the Florida Keys as a category two hurricane heading eastward.
August 7, 1928: The first storm of the 1927 season made landfall as a category two hurricane near Palm Beach. The storm stayed overland as it tracked northwest until recurving near the Florida-Alabama-Georgia border.
September 17, 1928: The fourth storm of the season made landfall as a category four hurricane near Palm Beach before recurving over Central Florida and tracking over the coastline of the eastern seaboard. The storm had briefly reached category five intensity as it passed over Puerto Rico.
September 28-30, 1929: The second storm of the 1929 season made landfall as category two hurricane near Key Largo. On the 30th, the storm made a second landfall as a category one hurricane near Apalachicola.
July 30, 1933: The fifth storm of the 1933 season made landfall as a category one hurricane just north of Palm Beach and exited as a tropical storm just south of Tampa Bay.
September 3-4, 1933: The twelfth storm of the season made landfall near Palm Beach as a category four hurricane. It further damaged Florida's economy that had already been devastated by the 1926 and 1928 hurricanes. Stuart Florida reported heavy damage (75% of roofs blown) with two residents killed. The citrus crop loss was nearly complete.
October 5, 1933: The eighteenth storm of the season passed along the southern shores of the Florida Keys as an eastbound hurricane as it strengthened from a category two to a category four during the pass.
September 2-4, 1935: The "Labor Day Hurricane". The strongest hurricane on record to have struck the United States, and was for five decades the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever. After striking the Bahamas, the hurricane made landfall along the Florida Keys on Labor Day, September 2, 1935 with Category 5 winds on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The storm devastated a part of the Keys, breaking the islands' road and rail connections to mainland Florida. The main transportation route linking the Florida Keys to mainland Florida was a single railroad line, the Florida Overseas Railroad portion of the Florida East Coast Railway. A 10-car evacuation train, sent down from Homestead was washed off the track by the storm surge and high winds on Lower Matecumbe Key. The train was supposed to rescue a group of World War I veterans, who, as part of a government relief program, were building a new road bridge in the Upper Keys. In total, at least 423 people (164 residents and 259 veterans employed on the road project) were killed by the hurricane. Bodies were recovered as far away as Flamingo and Cape Sable on the southwest tip of the Florida mainland. In a lucky coincidence, about 350 of the 718 veterans living in the Keys work camps were in Miami to attend a Labor Day baseball game when the storm hit. If not for this outing, many more of the men, whose barracks in the Keys were flimsy shacks, might have been killed by the storm.
November 4, 1935: The sixth storm of the season made landfall as a category one hurricane near Fort Lauderdale and exited near East Cape Sable.
July 31, 1936: The fifth storm of the season made landfall near Key Largo as a tropical storm and exited near Chokoloskee. On the thirty-first, the storm made landfall as a category one hurricane near Pensacola. The hurricane caused $123,000 in damage.
August 11, 1939: The second storm of the 1939 season made landfall as a category one hurricane just north of Palm Beach and, after weakening to a tropical storm, exited near Yankeetown. The storm reintensified before it made a second landfall near Apalachicola as a category one hurricane late the next day. Damage was minor, amounting to uprooted trees, broken windows, moderate crop damage, and downed power lines. Heavy flooding was seen across its path, especially from its renmants. There were two deaths attributed to the storm. One man drowned at Cedar Key when his rowboat overturned, and one person was killed from a tornado in North Carolina.
Hurricane Timeline from 1950 to 1992
September 1950: Hurricane Easy sustains winds at 125 mph and dumps more than 38 inches of rain of Yankeetown, Florida.
October 1950: Hurricane King hits Miami carving a 10 mile path of destruction with gusts reaching 150 mph and a storm surge as high as 19 feet.
September 11, 1960: Hurricane Donna sliced an erratic path from the Caribbean, through the Florida Keys, into the Gulf of Mexico, back to and over Florida before heading up the Atlantic coast to North Carolina, New England, and completing her journey at Long Island, New York. Her peak winds of 200 mph and 13-foot storm surge claimed the lives of 50 people while causing more than one billion dollars in damage.
September 4, 1965: Hurricane Betsy stalled off the Florida coast. During the last week of August, Betsy had been building strength as it churned directly for South Carolina. Then on Saturday, Sept. 4, the storm whirled to a stop, about 350 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla. When Betsy finally starting moving again on Sunday, she had changed directions. The storm plowed through the Bahamas Monday night, then mauled South Florida a day later. The tempest, more than 600 miles from edge to edge, flooded Miami and Fort Lauderdale with a six-foot tide. Drawing increased strength from the warm waters of the Gulf, Betsy packed winds of 135 mph by the time it slammed into the Louisiana coast several days later.
June 19, 1972: Hurricane Agnes smacked the Florida Panhandle with 80-mile-an-hour winds, heavy rains and raging seas. High winds sent signs cart-wheeling through Panama City streets, and an unattended amusement park ferris wheel bent under the strain. Spawned by Agnes, over 15 tornadoes erupted in Florida and Georgia.
August 26, 1992: Hurricane Andrew, the most destructive United States hurricane of record, Andrew blasted its way across South Florida on Aug. 24, continued westward into the Gulf of Mexico and struck the Louisiana coast on Aug. 26. Andrew is responsible for 23 deaths in the United States and three in the Bahamas. The hurricane caused $26.5 billion in damage in the United States, of which $1 billion occurred in Louisiana and the rest in South Florida.