Hurricane Ian is barreling toward Florida’s west coast, bringing with it the threat of “catastrophic” winds and storm surge as it verges on becoming a Category 5 storm.
The big picture: Only four hurricanes on record have made landfall in the U.S. with maximum sustained winds of greater than 155 mph, per Philip Klotzbach, a researcher at Colorado State University.
- In total, 14 Category 4 or 5 hurricanes have made landfall in Florida since 1851, the earliest data available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to Klotzbach.
- If Hurricane Ian makes landfall at its current maximum wind intensity, it would become the fifth-strongest hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland on record, per Steve Bowen, the chief science officer at Gallagher Re.
- Here’s a look at some of the strongest storms to hit Florida over the last two decades and their impact.
Hurricane Andrew, 1992
- Hurricane Andrew is the “strongest and most devastating hurricane on record to hit southern Florida,” per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and had maximum sustained winds of 165 mph.
- Hurricane Andrew, one of four hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. as a Category 5 since 1900, hit Miami-Dade County and caused an estimated $26 billion in damage in the country, per NOAA.
- The storm directly caused 23 deaths in the U.S.
Hurricane Charley, 2004
- Hurricane Charley made landfall on the southwest coast of Florida, near Cayo Costa, an island off of Florida’s Gulf Coast, as a Category 4 storm, per Weather.gov.
- Hurricane Charley was one of four hurricanes in just six weeks during the 2004 hurricane season, per NOAA.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday referenced Hurricane Charley in issuing a warning for Hurricane Ian, saying: “I know there are folks in southwest Florida who remember Hurricane Charley was projected to make a direct impact into Tampa Bay and then it turned and went into southwest Florida.”
- “I would just say, the track may end up doing something similar but this is a much different storm,” he said.
Hurricane Wilma, 2005
- Hurricane Wilma hit South Florida as a Category 3 hurricane with wind gusts of up to 120 mph, per the National Weather Service.
- 22 deaths were attributed to Wilma, including five in Florida and damage in southern Florida cost an estimated $16.8 billion, per NOAA.
Hurricane Irma, 2017
- Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane with wind gusts of 130 miles per hour and produced tornadoes, knocking out power for millions of customers in the state.
- In Florida, 7 people died directly from the storm and the damage totaled approximately $50 billion, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Hurricane Michael, 2018
- Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, Florida as a Category 4 storm in 2018, making it one of the strongest storms ever to strike the continental U.S.
- The storm caused severe damage in the Florida Panhandle. Eight direct fatalities were reported, including seven in Florida, Reuters notes.