List of Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes

A Category 5 Atlantic hurricane is a tropical cyclone that reaches Category 5 intensity on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale, within the Atlantic Ocean to the north of the equator. They are amongst the strongest tropical cyclones that can form on earth and have 1-minute sustained wind speeds of over 137 knots (254 km/h; 158 mph; 70 m/s). The United States National Hurricane Center currently estimates that a total of 36 tropical cyclones between 1851 and 2020, have peaked as a category 5 hurricane.

Hurricane Isabel, as seen from the International Space Station in September 2003

BackgroundEdit

 
Tracks of all known Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes between 1851 and 2019.

Within the Atlantic Ocean to the north of the Equator, hurricanes are officially monitored by the United States's National Hurricane Center (NHC), however, other meteorological services, such as Meteo France, the United Kingdom's Met Office and Environment Canada also monitor the basin. Within the region, a Category 5 hurricane is considered to be a tropical cyclone that has 1-minute mean maximum sustained wind speeds of 137 knots (254 km/h; 158 mph; 70 m/s) or greater on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale at 10 metres (32.8 ft) above ground.[1]

A total of 36 tropical cyclones have been estimated to have peaked as a Category 5 hurricane on the SSHWS, with the first thought to have occurred during 1924. Officially, from 1924 to 2019, 36 Category 5 hurricanes have been recorded. No Category 5 hurricanes were observed officially before 1924. It can be presumed that earlier storms reached Category 5 strength over open waters, but the strongest winds were not measured. The anemometer, a device used for measuring wind speed, was invented in 1846. However, during major hurricane strikes, the instruments as a whole were often blown away, leaving the hurricane's peak intensity unrecorded. For example, as the Great Beaufort Hurricane of 1879 struck North Carolina, the anemometer cups were blown away when indicating 138 mph (222 km/h).[2]

As of May 2018, a reanalysis of weather data was ongoing by researchers who may upgrade or downgrade other Atlantic hurricanes currently listed at Categories 4 and 5.[3] For example, the 1825 Santa Ana hurricane is suspected to have reached Category 5 strength.[4] Furthermore, paleotempestological research aims to identify past major hurricanes by comparing sedimentary evidence of recent and past hurricane strikes. For example, a "giant hurricane" significantly more powerful than Hurricane Hattie (Category 5) has been identified in Belizean sediment, having struck the region sometime before 1500.[5]

 
An October Category 5 that hit Cuba in 1924. It was the first hurricane to be officially recognized as a Category 5.

Officially, the decade with the most Category 5 hurricanes is 2000–2009, with eight Category 5 hurricanes having occurred: Isabel (2003), Ivan (2004), Emily (2005), Katrina (2005), Rita (2005), Wilma (2005), Dean (2007), and Felix (2007). The previous decades with the most Category 5 hurricanes were the 1930s and 1960s, with six occurring between 1930 and 1939 (before naming began).[6]

The most consecutive years to feature at least one Category 5 hurricane each is four, from 2016 to 2019. Six storms have reached that category in these years - Matthew, Irma, Maria, Michael, Dorian, and Lorenzo. Of these, Dorian had the highest winds, at 160 kn (185 mph; 295 km/h), while Maria had the lowest central pressure, at 908 mbar (26.81 inHg).[7]

Nine Atlantic hurricanes—Camille, Allen, Andrew, Isabel, Ivan, Dean, Felix, Irma and Maria—reached Category 5 intensity on more than one occasion; that is, by reaching Category 5 intensity, weakening to a Category 4 status or lower, and then becoming a Category 5 hurricane again. Such hurricanes have their dates shown together. Camille, Andrew, Dean, Felix, Irma, and Maria each attained Category 5 status twice during their lifespans. Allen, Isabel, and Ivan reached Category 5 intensity on three separate occasions. However, no Atlantic hurricane has reached Category 5 intensity more than three times during its lifespan. The 1932 Cuba hurricane holds the record for the most time spent as a Category 5 hurricane (although it took place before satellite or aircraft reconnaissance, so this record may be somewhat suspect). Irma holds the record for the longest continuous span as a Category 5 storm in the satellite era.[6][8]

Of the 36 Category 5 hurricanes that have been recorded in the Atlantic basin since reliable records began in 1851, 1 has been recorded in July, 8 in August, 21 in September, 6 in October, and 1 in November. There have been no officially recorded June or off-season Category 5 hurricanes.[6]

The July and August Category 5 hurricanes reached their high intensities in both the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. These are the areas most favorable for tropical cyclone development in those months.[6][9]

September sees the most Category 5 hurricanes, with over half of the total. This coincides with the climatological peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which occurs in early September.[10] September Category 5s reached their strengths in any of the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and open Atlantic. These places are where September tropical cyclones are likely to form.[9] Many of these hurricanes are either Cape Verde-type storms, which develop their strength by having a great deal of open water; or so-called Bahama busters, which intensify over the warm Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico.[11]

Six of the seven Category 5 hurricanes in October and November (the exception being Michael) reached their intensities in the western Caribbean, a region that Atlantic hurricanes strongly gravitate toward late in the season.[9] This is due to the climatology of the area, which sometimes has a high-altitude anticyclone that promotes rapid intensification late in the season, as well as warm waters.

SystemsEdit

Name Dates as a
Category 5
Duration as a
Category 5
Sustained
wind speeds
Pressure Areas affected Deaths Damage
(USD)
Refs
"Cuba" October 19, 1924 12 hours 165 mph (270 km/h) 910 hPa (26.87 inHg) Central America, Mexico, Cuba
Florida, The Bahamas
90 [12]
"San Felipe II
Okeechobee"
September 13–14, 1928 12 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 929 hPa (27.43 inHg) Lesser Antilles, The Bahamas
United States East Coast, Atlantic Canada
4,000 $100 million
"Bahamas" September 5–6, 1932 1 day 160 mph (260 km/h) 921 hPa (27.20 inHg) The Bahamas, Northeastern United States 16
"Camaguey" November 5–8, 1932 3 days 6 hours 175 mph (280 km/h) 915 hPa (27.02 inHg) Lesser Antilles, Jamaica, Cayman Islands
Cuba, The Bahamas, Bermuda
3,103 $40 million
"Cuba–Brownsville" August 30, 1933 12 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 930 hPa (27.46 inHg) The Bahamas, Cuba, Florida
Texas, Tamaulipas
179 $27.9 million
"Tampico" September 21, 1933 12 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 929 hPa (27.43 inHg) Jamaica, Yucatán Peninsula 184 $5 million
"Labor Day" September 3, 1935 18 hours 185 mph (295 km/h) 892 hPa (26.34 inHg) The Bahamas, Florida, Georgia
The Carolinas, Virginia
408
"New England" September 19–20, 1938 18 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 940 hPa (27.76 inHg) Eastern United States, Southwestern Quebec 682 $306 million
Carol September 3, 1953 12 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 929 hPa (27.43 inHg) Bermuda, New England, Atlantic Canada 5 $2 million
Janet September 27–28, 1955 18 hours 175 mph (280 km/h) 914 hPa (26.99 inHg) Lesser Antilles, Central America 1,023 $65.8 million [13]
Esther September 17, 1961 18 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 919 hPa (27.14 inHg) East Coast of the United States 7 $6 million
Hattie October 31, 1961 6 hours 165 mph (270 km/h) 914 hPa (26.99 inHg) Central America 319 $60.3 million [14][15]
Beulah September 20, 1967 18 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 923 hPa (27.26 inHg) The Caribbean, Mexico, Texas 59 $208 million [16]
Camille August 16–18, 1969 1 day 6 hours 175 mph (280 km/h) 900 hPa (26.58 inHg) Cuba, United States Gulf Coast 259 $1.42 billion [17]
Edith September 9, 1971 6 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 943 hPa (27.85 inHg) The Caribbean, Central America
Mexico, United States Gulf Coast
37 $25.4 million
Anita September 2, 1977 12 hours 175 mph (280 km/h) 926 hPa (27.34 inHg) Mexico 11 Extensive [18]
David August 30–31, 1979 1 day 18 hours 175 mph (280 km/h) 924 hPa (27.29 inHg) The Caribbean, United States East coast 2,068 $1.54 billion [19][20]
Allen August 5–9, 1980 3 days 190 mph (305 km/h) 899 hPa (26.55 inHg) The Caribbean, Yucatán Peninsula
Mexico, South Texas
269 $1.24 billion [19][21][22]
Gilbert September 13–14, 1988 1 day 185 mph (295 km/h) 888 hPa (26.22 inHg) Jamaica, Venezuela, Central America
Hispaniola, Mexico
318 $7.1 billion [23][24]
Hugo September 15, 1989 6 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 918 hPa (27.11 inHg) The Caribbean, United States East Coast 107 $10 billion [17][25][26]
Andrew August 23–24, 1992 16 hours 175 mph (280 km/h) 922 hPa (27.23 inHg) The Bahamas, Florida, United States Gulf Coast 65 $26.5 billion [17][27]
Mitch October 26–28, 1998 1 day 18 hours 180 mph (285 km/h) 905 hPa (26.72 inHg) Central America, Yucatán Peninsula, South Florida 19,325 $6.2 billion [28][29][30][31]
Isabel September 11–14, 2003 1 day 18 hours 165 mph (270 km/h) 915 hPa (27.02 inHg) Greater Antilles, Bahamas
Eastern United States, Ontario
51 $5.37 billion [17][32]
Ivan September 9–14, 2004 2 days 12 hours 165 mph (270 km/h) 910 hPa (26.87 inHg) The Caribbean, Venezuela, United States Gulf Coast 124 $23.3 billion [17][33]
Emily July 16, 2005 6 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 929 hPa (27.43 inHg) Windward Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Texas 17 $1.01 billion [34]
Katrina August 28–29, 2005 18 hours 175 mph (280 km/h) 902 hPa (26.64 inHg) Bahamas, United States Gulf Coast 1,836 $125 billion [35]
Rita September 21–22, 2005 1 day 180 mph (285 km/h) 895 hPa (26.43 inHg) Cuba, United States Gulf Coast 125 $12 billion [36]
Wilma October 19, 2005 18 hours 185 mph (295 km/h) 882 hPa (26.05 inHg) Greater Antilles, Central America, Florida 87 $29.4 billion [37][38][39][40]
Dean August 18–21, 2007 1 day 175 mph (280 km/h) 905 hPa (26.72 inHg) The Caribbean, Central America 45 $1.76 billion [19][41][42]
Felix September 3–4, 2007 1 day 175 mph (280 km/h) 929 hPa (27.43 inHg) Nicaragua, Honduras 133 $720 million [43][44][45][46]
Matthew October 1, 2016 12 hours 165 mph (270 km/h) 934 hPa (27.58 inHg) Antilles, Venezuela, Colombia
United States East Coast, Atlantic Canada
603 $15.1 billion [47]
Irma September 5–9, 2017 3 days 180 mph (285 km/h) 914 hPa (26.99 inHg) Cape Verde, The Caribbean, Virgin Islands
Cuba, Florida
138 $64.8 billion [48]
Maria September 18–20, 2017 1 day 4 hours
15 minutes
175 mph (280 km/h) 908 hPa (26.81 inHg) Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico
Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands
3,057 $91.6 billion [49]
Michael October 10, 2018 30 minutes 160 mph (260 km/h) 919 hPa (27.14 inHg) Central America, United States Gulf Coast 74 $25.1 billion
Dorian September 1–2, 2019 1 day 6 hours 185 mph (295 km/h) 910 hPa (26.87 inHg) Barbados, Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, United States East Coast, Atlantic Canada, Greenland 84 $4.68 billion [50]
Lorenzo September 29, 2019 3 hours 160 mph (260 km/h) 925 hPa (27.32 inHg) Cabo Verde, Azores, Western Europe 19 $362 million
Overall reference for Name, dates, duration, winds and pressure:[6]
†Discontinuous duration (weakened below Category 5 then restrengthened to that classification at least once)

Listed by monthEdit

LandfallsEdit

 
Hurricane Michael as it was making landfall as a Category 5 hurricane in 2018

With the exception of Hurricane Lorenzo, which did not make landfall but still brought hurricane-force winds to the Azores, all Atlantic Category 5 hurricanes have made landfall at some location as a hurricane, and all but four of those (Carol, Esther, Mitch and Isabel) made landfall at some location at major hurricane strength. Most Category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic make landfall because of their proximity to land in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, where the usual synoptic weather patterns carry them towards land, as opposed to the westward, oceanic mean track of Eastern Pacific hurricanes.[51] Seventeen of the storms made landfall at least once while at Category 5 intensity;[6] 2007 and 2017 are the only years in which two storms made landfall at this intensity.[6]

Many of these systems made landfall shortly after weakening from a Category 5 hurricane. This weakening can be caused by dry air near land, shallower waters due to shelving, interaction with land, replacement of its eyewalls, or cooler waters near shore.[35][citation needed] In southern Florida, the return period for a Category 5 hurricane is roughly once every 50 years.[52]

The following table lists these hurricanes by landfall intensity. As Lorenzo did not make landfall, it is omitted.

Name Year
Category 5
Category 4
Category 3
Category 2
Category 1
Tropical or subtropical storm
Tropical or subtropical depression
References
"Cuba" 1924 Cuba Florida The Bahamas [6][53]
"Okeechobee" 1928 Puerto Rico Guadeloupe,
Turks and Caicos Islands, The Bahamas
& Florida
South Carolina
"Bahamas" 1932 The Bahamas
"Cuba" 1932 Little Cayman & Cuba The Bahamas Martinique
"Cuba–Brownsville" 1933 The Bahamas Cuba & Texas
"Tampico" 1933 Yucatán Peninsula Mainland Mexico
"Labor Day" 1935 Florida Keys Northwest Florida The Bahamas
"New England" 1938 New York & Connecticut
Carol 1953 New Brunswick
Janet 1955 Yucatán Peninsula Mainland Mexico
Esther 1961 Massachusetts & Maine
Hattie 1961 Belize Mexico
Beulah 1967 Texas Yucatán Peninsula
Camille 1969 Louisiana & Mississippi Cuba
Edith 1971 Nicaragua Louisiana Belize & Mexico
Anita 1977 Mexico
David 1979 Dominican Republic Dominica Florida Cuba, The Bahamas, & Georgia
Allen 1980 Texas & Barbados
Gilbert 1988 Quintana Roo Jamaica & Tamaulipas [23]
Hugo 1989 Guadeloupe, Saint Croix, & South Carolina Puerto Rico [25]
Andrew 1992 Eleuthera & Florida Berry Islands Louisiana [27]
Mitch 1998 Honduras Campeche & Florida [28]
Isabel 2003 North Carolina [32]
Ivan 2004 Alabama, Grenada Louisiana [33]
Emily 2005 Quintana Roo Tamaulipas Grenada [34]
Katrina 2005 Louisiana & Mississippi Florida [35]
Rita 2005 Louisiana [36]
Wilma 2005 Cozumel & Quintana Roo Florida [37]
Dean 2007 Quintana Roo Veracruz [41]
Felix 2007 Nicaragua Grenada [43]
Matthew 2016 Haiti, Cuba & Grand Bahama South Carolina [47]
Irma 2017 Barbuda, Saint Martin, British Virgin Islands & Cuba Little Inagua & Florida Keys Southwest Florida [48]
Maria 2017 Dominica Puerto Rico [54]
Michael 2018 Florida
Dorian 2019 Abaco Islands & Grand Bahama (2x) North Carolina St. Thomas Saint Lucia & Barbados

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit