With the end of the 2019 hurricane season this week, we can have a look back at U.S. mainland hurricane strikes by president. Tabulating hurricanes by president is fun and can help you to look smart and win bets at the Thanksgiving table.
But hurricanes have also been important events for many presidential administrations. After the great New England hurricane of 1938 devastated communities in the northeast, President Franklin Roosevelt promoted the role of the federal government in assisting in disasters, foreshadowing what is today a common practice. President George W. Bush’s presidency is remembered for his administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Here’s the data, sorted in two ways. On the left presidents are ranked by total hurricane landfalls during their time in office. On the right they are ranked by the number of storms per year.
Here are some interesting points about this history:
- Barack Obama has a case for the luckiest president since 1900 when it comes to hurricane landfalls, experiencing only 4 over his two terms;
- Donald Trump is running at a high rate, with more than two per year over his first 3 years;
- Apart from Franklin Roosevelt, who was in office for more than 12 years, George W. Bush had the worst hurricane luck, with 18 total storms;
- All other modern presidents — Nixon, Carter, Reagan, GHW Bush and Obama — fall in the bottom half of the table.
President Trump has already experienced his own political difficulties with multiple hurricanes. Given the long record of presidential history with these powerful storms, you’d have to think he will have more to come.