The 1896 Cedar Keys hurricane was a powerful and destructive hurricane that devastated much of the East Coast of the United States, starting with Florida’s Cedar Keys, near the end of September 1896. The storm's rapid movement allowed it to maintain much of its intensity after landfall and cause significant damage over a broad area; as a result, it became one of the costliest United States hurricanes at the time. It formed by September 22, before crossing the Caribbean Sea just south of the Greater Antilles. It entered the Gulf of Mexico as the equivalent of a major hurricane on the, and struck the Cedar Keys—an offshore island chain that includes the island and city of Cedar Key—late on the night of September 28, 1896 with winds of 125 mph. The area was inundated by a devastating 10.5 ft storm surge that undermined buildings, washed out the connecting railroad to the mainland, and submerged the smaller, outlying islands, where 31 people were killed. The hurricane still had considerable strength when it entered southeastern Georgia. The winds brought down telephone, telegraph, and electric wires throughout the region, severing communications. Southern South Carolina also saw the damaging effects of the storm, which was accompanied by estimated winds of up to 100 mph. As the cyclone expanded and accelerated, it entered Virginia with renewed violence, and produced what still stands as the most severe windstorm in Richmond’s history. More destruction was occurred in the Washington DC area as well as Maryland and Pennsylvania. The system merged with a storm moving out of Canada and across the Great Lakes region producing gales and sinking ships in the Great Lakes.
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